Electricity Tariff: The DISCO Extortion

by Dr. Ayokunle Ayk Adeleye,

If you had a business that generated N6b every month irrespective of whether you delivered, irrespective of whether you were nice to your customers, irrespective of the economic situation of the country, wouldn’t you fight to keep the disco playing? If you entered a store to buy some stuff, looked around, and because you realised that their items were more expensive than you could get elsewhere, you made to leave only to be accosted at the door and billed for entering, asked to pay a Fixed Charge! wouldn’t you fight?

Before July 2012, the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, as it was then known, billed N75 as Fixed Charge. Then it was N500 till July 2014 when it became N650 for a month or two and finally settled at N625. These charges are per meter (or bill, if one is unmetered; not per house, compound or street) and are imposed irrespective of your consumption for the month. Why, even if you did not consume a single unit of electricity, even if your street supply was off for the month (as we have heard of severally), even if you were disconnected by disco staff, you were still billed for the month! And taxed as well!

Of course, that does not stop the electric company officials from asking you to contribute money to install the transformer, or repair it, or to maintain the wires that supplied your street. In the space of two years each house on my street has had to contribute N500 to fix the transformer or buy plastic-pipe separators for the supply wires! This happens virtually everywhere, and I am sure even you can relate to it. One therefore wonders what the Fixed Charge is really for, besides guaranteeing disco returns even without supply, especially without supply.

And now that Nigerians have finally caught on and are demanding repeal, the electricity distribution companies (DISCOs), as we now have, have put up a fight, expectedly. They are insisting on recouping the longstanding fixed extortion as increase in tariff! They would do anything to secure their bloated, unjustified income! And why not? If 100 million customers each pay N625 each month for the irregular supply they may not even get at all, wouldn’t the profiteers be happy and protective, enjoying the disco?

The electricity tariff per unit was N7.30 till July 2012, N12.30 till around September 2013, and N12.91 till around October 2014 when it became N16.11. Since August 2015, my neighbour has been selectively billed N19.06 per unit, yet we use the same electricity, hers is not special in any way! The tariff is inexplicably unfair, and has gradually increased over the years under the premise of improvements in the power supply, improvements that have been short-lived at best! Shall we then allow another (unjustified) increase? Shall we continue to be extorted? Shall we fold our arms or disco about and be taken for fools again? The answer of course is NO!

Customers must pay for goods supplied and services rendered. Nigerians will pay the tariff, whatever it is so long it is both reasonable and commensurate to supply; we are not criminals, but we will only pay for only what we consume: No more estimated bills, no more discarded meter readings, no more unmetered connections, no more fixed extortion, sorry, Fixed Charge! No more corruption!

Dr. Ayokunle Ayk Adeleye,