The implementation of the proposed two-month free electricity supply to Nigerians is unlikely to materialise due to the structure of the electricity supply industry in the country.
Sunday Oduntan the executive director in charge of research and advocacy for the Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors, made the announcement in early April, stating that the move was meant to reduce the impacts of COVID-19 on Nigerians.
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However, THISDAY reported that Minister of Power Saleh Mamman, in a BBC Hausa interview doubted the possibility of executing the proposal, which is estimated to cost the federal government between N100 billion ($257 million) and N120 billion ($308 million) for the two months.
The minister highlighted that the power supply chain is not owned by the federal government only.
He added that if the National Assembly insists on pressing ahead with the plan, its members should come up with fresh ideas on its implementation.
Mamman explained that if the plan is implemented, the federal government will end up paying for the electricity consumed by the rich to the detriment of the extremely poor, adding that over 80 million Nigerians do not have access to on-grid electricity.
“This free electricity bill will be paid with taxpayers’ money and you want to serve the interest of the privileged Nigerians, then the less privileged and the vulnerable what are you going to do for them?
“Every month what we pay as electricity bill, I mean what the distribution companies are paying with the little support from government is a little above N50 billion ($128 million) monthly,” he said.
When asked to comment on the matter, Transmission Company of Nigeria’s General Manager Ndidi Mba, told THISDAY that: “The minister speaks for us. We are a government entity.
“The minister’s office is the policy making arm; so we can’t speak against the minister. The minister and the federal government take the decision and whenever they take that decision, it then cascades, and then it is discussed.”