Monday, May 20, 2024

Electricity tariff hike: Labour insists on reversal

The organised labour on Monday insisted on total reversal of the recent electricity tariff hike before considering the option of dialogue.

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) had raised the electricity tariff from N65/kwh to N225/Kwh for Band A users.

The federal government later approved a marginal slash, which labour rejected and demanded full reversal, giving an ultimatum of May 12.

The unions had also asked NERC to stop what it described as “discriminatory practice” of segregating electricity consumers into “arbitrary” bands.

In fulfilment of the plan to picket offices, the organised labour carried out the action yesterday in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, and various states of the federation with the sole message calling for reversal of tariff increase.

In Abuja, members of the organised labour, civil society organisations and concerned Nigerians, who protested and locked up the headquarters of NERC, rejected the appeal of the commission.

The protesters, who were led by the President of NLC, Joe Ajaero and his counterpart from TUC, Festus Osifo, as early as 8:00am, insisted on total reversal of the recent electricity tariff hike.

Addressing the visibly angry protesters, the Chairman of NERC, Sanusi Garba, said the commission would go back to the drawing board concerning some of the demands listed by the organised labour.

Garba said, “On behalf of the NERC, I want to welcome the comrades who have come here on a peaceful demonstration. We have taken note of all you have said, particularly about the affordability of tariffs. We have listened to you and the concerns of Nigerians.

“We also noted clearly what Comrade Ajaero said about energy sources, and I would like to say that the new Zungeru power plant is already online, generating over 600 megawatts. We are also working hard to ramp up solar generation in such a way that tariffs will start to come down.

“Comrade Ajaero also made remarks about banks sitting on the boards of distribution companies. The NERC had earlier given deadlines to all the banks to exit from the boards of distribution companies because we want proper investors on the boards of these companies.

“We have noted your concerns and we will go back to the drawing board.”

But the protesters shouted on top of their voice that they did not want “going back to the drawing board” but a total reversal of the hike to the status quo, while chanting, “No, No, reverse the hike, we demand total reversal of electricity tariff hike !!!.”

While addressing the management of NERC and other protesters, Ajaero said Nigerians are currently wallowing in “power poverty” given the abysmal low supply of electricity.

The labour leader explained that the current supply generated by Nigeria is not even enough for Lagos, which is just one state in Nigeria, adding that the move by the NERC to hike tariff without engagements with stakeholders in the power sector was faulty.

He said, “We are here on a peaceful protest, having written so many letters to NERC to remind them that they cannot increase tariffs without meeting with Nigerians. We reminded them that the process of increasing tariffs requires that they meet with all stakeholders, including labour.

“We do not know where this current tariff is coming from. NERC is not oblivious to the fact that Nigeria is wallowing in power poverty. Nigeria is down the line as one of the countries in the world that are poor in terms of power supply.

“What Nigeria is generating today is not enough for Lagos alone and it is bad enough for you now to tell us that some Nigerians are bigger than the others. It is bad enough for you to say some Nigerians will get 20 hours while other Nigerians will get two hours.”



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