President Jonathan has alleged that some of the governors backed out on him during the fuel subsidy removal episode in January. This was in spite of all the governors being in agreement on the removal of fuel subsidy in the first place. It was common knowledge that the 36 governors championed the fuel subsidy removal as it would automatically mean more funds for their respective states.
The President speaking at the one-day Presidential Workshop entitled: “Dismantling barriers to achieving our power sector vision”, was concerned about the upcoming June 1st hike in electricity prices.
He said, “On the June 1 date for the increase of electricity tariff, I do not think we have had a robust advocacy and this happened to me during the deregulation. At a point, I wanted to send a team to the states to work with the governors and I think it was the Benue State Governor that said no, that if we do that, there could be crises, that the governors should take charge. At the end of the day, by the time we announced the deregulation, almost everything was on my head.
Everything was on Jonathan to the extent that even the House of Representatives met on a Sunday to discuss it and it became an issue. At a point, some of the governors who participated in pressurizing me started shifting back. All what I am saying is that we did not have a robust advocacy. The Civil Society may come and tell you that they never heard you. We want enough communication so that we do not get to that June 1 and Nigerians will say they have not been sufficiently informed.”
The argument for the increase in electricity tariffs is that it will increase power generation as investors will be keen to develop the electricity sector. However this was the same fallacious argument used for subsidy removal.
The Federal Government may once again be biting more than it can chew by attempting to raise prices for a commodity it does not effectively or efficiently supply.