Despite current drop in power generation and supply, the directive by the Senate to suspend the new 45 per cent tariff hike remains invalid, as the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, said it lacked the constitutional authority to reverse the order.
This came as the leadership of organised labour called for the probe of the NERC, and former chairman of the commission, over the controversy surrounding the recent hike in electricity tariff.
The declaration by NERC came as power generation in the country has plummeted to 3,664 megawatts, MW, according to information from the Federal Ministry of Power.
This is happening at a time the distribution companies, DISCOs, are insisting on increasing tariff on all categories of customers without commensurate increase in electricity supply.
Senate order However, justifying NERC’s stance, immediate past Chairman of NERC, Dr. Sam Amadi, described the Senate’s directive as illegal, unconstitutional and a direct encroachment on executive independence.
He told newsmen: “The order by the Senate for NERC to rescind the tariff is a direct infringement on the independence of the executive to initiate policies, in this case through NERC. It is a subtle derogation of the powers of the executive.
It offends the concept of separation of power. The legislature should not interfere and direct executive action.
That is clearly against the law. It is unconstitutional.” Amadi explained that apart from the Senate lacking the constitutional right to give such a directive, NERC, as currently constituted, was not competent to suspend or rescind the tariff order issued by its former Board.
He argued that until a new board was reconstituted to consider reviewing or totally suspending the order, “nobody anywhere can validly review or suspend the current tariff.”
He said: “It is not wise for the Senate to instruct NERC to stop the tariff. It will create serious regulatory risks across the market value chain. People will begin to look at it and say there is no independence of the industry regulator.”