Raising pre-paid meters prices inappropriate
Wow! What is this Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) regime’s policy on hiking the prices for electricity meters – single-phase and three phase respectively- to be sold to the consumers in the country? What are the economic rationale and financial justification for the Federal Government of Nigeria in raising the prices of pre-paid meters that are made available to Nigerians? This government policy on meters isn’t consumer-friendly at all.
In this context, I see the role of the Buhari regime as a middle man, the facilitator and supplier (via the supply of capital funds through the Central Bank of Nigeria of the electricity meters to the Nigerians, who are interested in the purchase of meters in the country.
A germane question: How many Nigerians can afford the high cost of acquiring electricity meters at N82,855 to N109,684? I consider this cost of acquisition of meters very exorbitant and costly given that many of the country’s citizens live on the threshold of less than $2 per a day.
I perceived that the Federal Government has created a ‘monopoly market’ for the supply of electricity and fixing prices for meters in Nigeria. Hence, the government has the capacity, ability and power to manipulate and control the supply of meters and set the prices at will, for the sale of meters in the domestic market.
With the present high purchase price for meters in the country, I think the action of the Federal Government will lead to creating artificial scarcity of the supply of electricity meters across the country. Also, the action of the Federal Government in the electricity supply market has made many Nigerians worse off, particularly via the supply chain of power to the citizens. Because of the high price of meters just imposed by the Buhari regime, many Nigerians would be excluded from the ownership of electricity meters in the country. It is my understanding that the ownership of meters is a prerequisite for the Nigerian consumers in having access to the supply of power in the country. Bluntly put, no meter, no supply of power to many Nigerians.
To compound the hardships facing Nigerians, the country’s economy has been declining, deteriorating and teetering with the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the historic fall in oil prices in the global market, etc. The growth of the Nigerian economy hasn’t been impressive this year.
Moreover, the Buhari regime has demonstrated a heavy dependency on foreign loans, thus it keeps borrowing money or taking loans from the domestic and foreign sources like China and multilateral financial institutions such as The World Bank, Africa Development Bank, International Monetary Fund, etc., to implement the country’s national budget, social and development programmes. It is relevant to factor in the high unemployment rate in the country, about 33 per cent.
Against this backdrop of poor economic conditions, abysmal performance and woes, how does the Buhari regime expect the Nigerian consumers of electricity can afford the new prices for meters in the country (the affordability factor)? The poor performance of the Nigerian economy presents a barrier or obstacle to the expectations of good life, superior welfare and high quality of standards of living for the citizens.
At the moment, a majority of Nigerians are struggling to survive and in making two ends meet under the current economic hardships, devastating and debilitating social and insecurity conditions in the country.
In fact, arguably, the government’s action has muddled up the supply chain of power to Nigerians, especially the poor and underprivileged citizens. Consequently, I see the Buhari regime’s policy on the increase of meter prices to Nigerians as inappropriate, to say the least. The increase in the meter prices might limit the country’s capacity vis-a-vis the access to power and hampering the citizens’ resilience efforts in the post-COVID-19 pandemic period. In addition, the policy of raising meter prices has implications for the widening of the existing social inequality in the Nigerian society.
Dr. Joel Ademisoye is a policy analyst and scholar based in Owo, Ondo State.
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