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Nigerians over the years have been battled with power supply. Additionally, while many of us have enjoyed limited electricity in our homes, we have still been hurled random bills on a monthly basis due to the practice of Bulk Billing. This practice, which was endorsed by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), worked by placing fixed charges and energy charges on power supply to consumers, despite the poor power supply. However, on Monday, August 17th, this practice finally came to an end.

Ever since the inauguration of the 8th National Assembly on June 9, 2015, the 8th Senate under the leadership of Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki has taken its oversight duties seriously. The Senators, on Tuesday, August 11, 2015, directed NERC to immediately abolish fixed charges on electricity consumption and bulk metering of communities.

Initially, in a press conference held a week after the Senate query, NERC, under the leadership of its Chairman, Dr. Sam Amadi, attempted to defy the directive of the Upper Legislative body. However, in a swift turnaround, the commission released a statement on Monday, 17th August, 2015, stating that customers who do not receive power will henceforth be exempted from paying fixed charges. Additionally, the commission agreed with the Senate's position on the need to eliminate the practice of bulk billing, and replace this practice with individual metering and billing.

Reacting to the development, the Senate President on Friday, August 21st, expressed his delight, stating that he was glad that NERC finally agreed with the position of the Senate. The Senate President, further urged Nigerians to see the NERC development as a clear departure from business as usual, and reminded them that the Chamber will continue to “represent the best interest of Nigerians, regardless of whose ox is gored.”

Visibly passionate about the issue, Dr. Saraki, continued to tweet that Nigerians should take advantage of communication channels that will soon be opened to the general public – urging them to inform their Senators of any “anti-people policies” that currently exist in the country.

In line with this, another aspect that the 8th Senate has to pay critical attention to is the exorbitant charges by Multichoice Nigeria Limited – a South African owned pay-media service.

MultiChoice, owners of DStv and GOtv, earlier this year announced a 20% price hike for all their satellite television bouquets in Nigeria. This policy, which took effect from April 1, 2015, sees the DStv Premium Service rise to N13,980 from N11,650, a N2,330 increase; while the DStv Family bouquet rises from N3,000 to N3,600, a N600 increase. Other increases include the fact that DStv Compact Plus subscribers will now pay N9,420 instead of N7,850; while DStv Compact users will pay N6,000 per month, up from N5,000.

The questions that Nigerians need to ask is: why is it that Nigerians are being forced to pay more for the exact same services that were rendered in the past, when our African counterparts get to enjoy the same services at outrageously cheaper prices? Now that the cat has been let out of the bag with the NERC bulk billing decision, Nigerians who were passionate about this issue of Multichoice ripping Nigerians off, must now speak out in one voice against this policy.

Written by Saka Olawale.
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