Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has advised Minister of Power, Mr. Babatunde Fashola to “ensure that regulatory authorities are not allowed to get away with 45 per cent increase in electricity tariffs by promoting compliance with the November 2013 ruling on the matter by two UN special rapporteurs.
SERAP advice followed a nationwide protest by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) against the increase in electricity tariffs, demanding an immediate reversal of the hike.
A statement signed by SERAP Executive Director Adetokunbo Mumuni the organisation stated that Nigeria is an important member of the UN and have voluntarily accepted its Charter and treaties, adding that any effort to increase electricity tariffs should be guided by recommendations and dialogue with organised labour and other stakeholders.
The organisation noted that the United Nations published the Joint Letter of Concern sent to the government of former President Goodluck Jonathan in which it expressed concerns that access to electricity and regularity of supply is a significant problem in Nigeria and that it raised eight questions for the government to answer within 60 days.
The letter with reference No NGA 5/2013 and dated November 26, 2013 and signed by two special rapporteurs expressed concerns that at the end of 2012, Nigeria with a population of about 160 million people only generated about 4,000 megawatts of electricity, which is ten times less than some other countries in the region with less population.
The UN special rapporteurs argued that all the beneficiaries of the right to adequate housing should have sustainable access to energy for cooking, heating and lighting, adding that the failure of states to provide basic services such as electricity is a violation of the right to health.
The rapporteurs Ms. Magdalena Sepúlveda Carmona, Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights and Ms. Raquel Rolnik Special Rapporteur on adequate housing sent the letter following a petition lodged last year by a coalition of human rights activists, labour, journalists and lawyers led by SERAP.
The petition alleged that increase in electricity tariffs would have detrimental impact on the human rights of those living in poverty in the country.
The special rapporteurs wanted answers to the following questions, are the facts alleged by SERAP and others accurate?, what kind of impact assessments were conducted to gauge the potential impact of the electricity tariff increases on the human rights of people living in extreme poverty in Nigeria? If so, provide details, did public consultations take place, including with potentially affected persons and especially people living in extreme poverty? If yes, please give details of the dates, participants and outcomes of the consultations.
Other questions raised are; was accessible and culturally adequate information about the measure actively disseminated through all available channels prior to consultation?, what measures have been put in place to ensure that the human rights of people living in extreme poverty in Nigeria will not be undermined by the increase in electricity tariffs?