Sam Amadi, chairman, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), during the inaugural meeting of the Nigerian Electricity Consumer Advocacy Network (NECAN) in Abuja recently, called on consumers to challenge operators in the power sector in order to effectively address complaints arising from electricity tariff setting, metering and billing by power firms.
He said there was the need to have a consumer advocacy organisation that could easily build technical and political capability to effectively challenge other organised interests in the electricity market.
He stated that in spite of the noble intent and progressive actions of the Commission, the outcomes of its endeavours were still not fair to the consumers, stressing that “until consumers are organised and able to contend against the operators, the democracy bargain in the Nigerian electricity market will remain deficient.”
Amadi said, “Organised consumer advocacy is not just focusing on challenging operators on tariff setting and such other commercial activities like metering and billing. It should also step up as a major contributor to big debates about building smart grid, clean energy, privatisation and modernisation of the electricity grid. It should also be involved in debate about the constitutional framework for energy policy in Nigeria.”
He stated that consumers needed to be more engaged and eloquent in the deliberation about the future of electricity in the country.
“There is a strong case to incorporate the consumers as part of the decision makers in the electricity market. This is the reason we are proposing the setup of the NECAN,” Amadi said.
He noted that one of the observable gaps in the current electricity market in the country was the absence of knowledgeable, credible and broad-based advocacy for the consumers.
The NERC boss said the consumer voice was under-represented in the emergent electricity market.
He added that the reason for this was because individual consumers and groups were “too dispersed and too fragmented, and their levels of engagement too superficial, too adversarial and too episodic to have the desired impact on outcomes in the sector.”
Meanwhile NECAN has called for reduction in electricity tariffs. The group made the call in Abuja during its maiden press briefing on what it ought to achieve in the Nigerian electricity supply industry.
The steering committee was set up by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission on Monday and was asked to get NECAN registered as a formidable national advocacy body that could hold private investors accountable in the electricity distribution chain.
Tomi Akingbogun, chairman of the steering committee, commenting on the recent 50 per cent cut in tariff for non-residential customers as announced by NERC, stated that it was as a result of pressure from organised consumer advocacies, especially the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria and other groups.
He explained that the NERC, after consulting with the electricity distribution companies, raised the tariff without considerable inputs from consumers.
Akingbogun noted that although the tariff was cut by 50 per cent, the reduction was still not satisfactory to consumers.
“They (NERC) reduced it by 50 per cent but that is not satisfactory because the tariff is still high.”
According to him, NECAN is putting all legal process in place to get the network activated as soon as possible.
Akingbogun said, “With the formation of the advocacy network, we are opening the door to all members of the public to be heard. We are going to have offices set up with officials on the ground.
“We assure you that we are not going to be NERC’s baby. We are going to represent the interest of the public by making sure that the voices of people in the rural areas are heard.”
He added that the NECAN steering committee was working on sensitising the public by using all media platforms across the states to grow members and create the required awareness so as to adequately face the electricity operators.
He said the group would ensure that NERC sanctioned electricity distribution companies that failed to meter eligible consumers at specified periods.

Maureen Nzeogu
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