Oscar Chukwugekwu, Abuja
The Senate on Monday commended the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) for being responsive to the yearnings and aspiration of the people.
Chairman, Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Media and Publicity, Senator Dino Melaye, in a statement in Abuja stated that NERC’s intervention and directive to electricity distribution companies (Discos) to restructure fixed charges, discontinue estimated billing and bulk metering of consumers shows that the commission could be relied upon to save electricity consumers from the excesses of the service providers.
While describing the steps taken so far by NERC in response to Senate’s resolution on the issue of fixed charges as a pro-people position, Melaye said the commission has shown that it is a responsible regulatory body.
It could be recalled that the Senate had, before embarking on its six-week recess, called on NERC to immediately ensure that Discos discontinue the monthly fixed charges on electricity.
The above directive followed a motion on the issue by senators Sam Egwu (Ebonyi North) and David Umaru (Niger East) entitled: “Unfair trade practices of Electricity Distribution Companies in Nigeria.”
Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, NERC, Dr. Sam Amadi, had in response to the issue of fixed charges noted that though it is legal, the Commission had intervened to prevent its abuse and ensure that customers are not forced to pay for what they did not consume.
“The Commission agrees with the Senate’s position on the need to eliminate the practice of bulk billing of residential customers and replace the practice with individual metering and billing,” Amadi said, while urging Nigerians to reject the practice forthwith.
Melaye, while calling on NERC to ensure that its intervention yields expected fruits in the shortest possible time to the benefit of Nigerians, also urged other agencies whose activities have direct impact on the generality of the public to always make decisions that would benefit the people rather than impoverish them.
“The 8th Senate is committed to change in all aspects of our national life in line with the Senate President, Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki’s resolve that ‘it is no longer business and usual.’
“The current Senate has great passion to move this country forward. That is why it has directed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to recover over N30 billion illegal waivers granted to some rice importers by the previous administration.
“The Senate, moved by the plight of Nigerians who daily suffer the negative consequence of lack of regular power supply, has constituted a committee to look into power spending by past administration with a view to blocking the loopholes that may still exist.
“On the other hand, the Committee on Works was constituted to make sure spending on roads infrastructure across the country were judiciously spent too and to prevent recurrence where otherwise be the case.
“Above all, Saraki and his deputy, Senator Ike Ekweremadu have both led high powered delegations of the Senate to visit Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Maiduguri and Adamawa respectively in clear demonstration of the Senate’s commitment to support efforts being made to end insurgency in the North-East and other affected parts of the country.
“Moreover, the Senate has expressed its readiness to reconvene any time there is a matter of urgent national importance or communication from President Muhammadu Buhari requiring its immediate attention,” he stated.
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