Millions remain in darkness, poverty, says SERAP

The Socio-Economic Rights and Responsibility Project has urged the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (Ret), to “instruct Energy Minister Goddy Jedy-Agba and the Chairman and CEO of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, Professor James Momoh, to immediately reverse the illegal, unfair and unreasonable increase in the electricity rate, which would have occurred in December 2022”.

According to SERAP, millions of Nigerians continue to live in the dark despite successive governments spending trillions of Naira as investments and bailouts to power companies.

Therefore, SERAP urged the president to “guarantee the investigation of the spending of public funds as ‘investments and bailouts’ by successive governments to electricity distribution and generation companies since 2005, and the prosecution of cases of corruption and bad management”.

Following the reported approval by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, electricity rates were increased at DisCos in the country in December 2022. Several prepaid customers reportedly confirmed the increase. Both the Ministry of Energy and NERC have refused to confirm or deny the increase.

In the letter dated January 7, 2023 and signed by SERAP Deputy Director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “Increasing the electricity tariff would exacerbate extreme poverty across the country and undermine the ability of millions of Nigerians to meet basic human needs. ”

SERAP said that “the increase in the electricity rate did not follow due process. It is totally inconsistent and incompatible with the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution of 1999. [as amended]the Electricity Sector Reform Law and the country’s international human rights obligations”.

The letter, it said in part, “the increase is unjustified, especially given the unreliable, inefficient and poor quality of electricity in the country. Instead of providing electricity discounts to poor Nigerians, successive governments continue to hand out bailouts to power companies.”

“We would appreciate if the recommended measures are taken within 7 days of receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP will consider appropriate legal action to compel your government to comply with our request in the public interest.”

“Your government should have used the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) report, which shows damning revelations that some 133 million Nigerians are poor, as a basis for improving access to regular electricity supply and extending electricity to rural households. remote”.

“The latest electricity rate increase comes on the heels of the NBC report showing that more than half of Nigeria’s population is multidimensionally poor and cooks with dung, wood or coal, rather than cleaner energy. Major deprivations are also evident nationally in sanitation, time to medical care, food insecurity, and housing.”

“Access to regular electricity supply would improve the quality of life of the population.”

“Electricity is an essential public service, but millions of Nigerians continue to pay the price for corruption in the electricity sector, left in the dark but forced to pay crazy electricity bills. The electricity supply remains inadequate and irregular.”

“Regular and uninterrupted access to electricity is a fundamental human right. Your government has a legal obligation to ensure that the operations of NERC and power companies do not impair the effective enjoyment of the right.”

“Access to affordable electricity services is a prerequisite for improving the condition of people living in poverty. It is a means to generate other important services that alleviate poverty, taking into account that access to electricity facilitates the eradication of poverty.”

“Increasing the fees would increase the financial burdens for socially and economically vulnerable Nigerians and would further marginalize and disproportionately affect them, and exacerbate their vulnerability to discrimination.”

“The failure of successive governments and high-ranking government officials to prevent widespread and systematic corruption in the electricity sector and to bring the alleged perpetrators to justice is the root cause of the exploitation of electricity consumers.”

“Investigating investment and bailout spending by successive governments on DISCOS and prosecuting anyone suspected of corruption and mismanagement of public funds, and recovering any proceeds of crime would end a culture of impunity in the electricity sector and improve access and affordability. of electricity. in Nigeria.”

“Successive governments have failed to increase power generation and provide Nigerians with a regular and uninterrupted supply of electricity, with many electricity contracts shrouded in secrecy and trillions of Naira wasted.

“Section 14(2)(b) of the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 [as amended] states that, ‘the safety and well-being of the people shall be the primary purpose of the government’”.

“Under Section 16(1)(a)(b), your government has an obligation to ‘develop the nation’s resources and promote national prosperity and an efficient, dynamic, and self-sufficient economy,’ and to ‘ensure the maximum well-being , freedom and happiness of all citizens’”.

“Nigeria has also ratified the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which recognize legally enforceable economic and social rights, such as the rights to education, health, safe food and drinking water, safety and shelter”.

“Your government also has a legal obligation to ensure that socially and economically vulnerable Nigerians, including the 133 million NBC documents as poor, enjoy non-discriminatory access to basic household services, including electricity.”

“According to Chapter 2 of the Nigerian Constitution of 1999, which deals with the fundamental objectives and guiding principles of state policy, high-level civil servants have a clear obligation to ‘suppress all corrupt practices and abuse of power’. ‘. In addition, the constitution prohibits the exploitation of Nigeria’s human and natural resources for any reason other than the good of the community.”

“Articles 5 and 9 of the United Nations Convention against Corruption also impose legal obligations on your government to ensure the proper management of public affairs and public funds, and to promote sound and transparent administration of public affairs.”

“The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights has judged that the failure of States to provide basic services such as electricity is a violation of the right to health.”

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