Hike in electricity tariff: Organised labour pickets NERC, DisCos offices nationwide, demands complete reversal of power sector privatization

0
4

. Threatens indefinite strike

.We’re not backtracking until FG reduces electricity tariff – Oyo NLC, TUC

. As TUC calls for relief amidst worsening economic hardship

CHIGOZIE AMADI

The Organised Labour has demanded for the complete reversal of the power sector privatisation and recovery of all public electricity assets sold.

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) made the demands while picketing the headquarters of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) over hike in electricity tariff on Monday in Abuja.

The protesting workers carried placards with inscriptions such as,’We are not generator Republic,’ IMF, World Bank, leave Nigeria Power Sector alone, “Let the poor breathe. Give us affordable and constant light, among others.

Mr Joe Ajaero, NLC President while addressing newsmen said that the privatisation of the power sector was a ‘colossal failure’.

It would be recalled that NERC had recently announced hike in electricity tariff across the nation from N65/kwh to N225/Kwh.

The organised labour had rejected the increase in the electricity tariff and therefore called for a reversal.

According to him, Organised Labour in Nigeria demands the complete reversal of the power sector privatisation and the recovery of all public electricity assets.

“That is which are sold cheap to largely inexperienced, technically deficient and financially challenged private investors.

“As workers are hit hardest by the increase in electricity tariff. Unlike business people, wage earning workers cannot adjust their income when the cost of utilities are increased.

“The stagnancy in wage amidst increases in electricity and refined petroleum products push workers over and beyond the limits of sanity and survival.

“Small and medium scale businesses which accommodates millions of workers in the informal economy is severally affected by the increases in energy cost.

“This have led to shutdown of business thus blooming Nigeria unemployment market,” he said.

He therefore, said that Nigeria workers rejected the recent increase in electricity tariff and the associated upgrading and downgrading of customers from one Band to another.

Ajaero further called on government to respect the Sept. 2021 agreement with Labour that reinforced in 2023 agreement that government must halt further increase in the tariff of public utilities until certain conditions were met.

He said that this include the review of the privatisation exercise, de- dollarization of gas supply to electricity generation, distribution of pre paid meters to all electricity consumers in Nigeria, among others.

The NLC president also noted that before the increase in electricity tariff, NERC would have called for a stakeholders meeting for proper consultation.

Mr Sanusi Garba, Chairman of NERC, commended Labour for its peaceful demonstration in respect of issues affecting the power sector.

According to him, we have taken input from your demands related to the affordability of the tariff issued by the commission, we have also listened to you and we have listened to the concerns of Nigerians.

“I want to assure you that we will make adequate representation on the policy side on the issue of affordability of tariffs.

“We also took note on your call for the diversification of energy sources and I will like to say that the Zukeru 700 mega watt power plant is already on,”he said.

The organised labour also went to the Ministry of Power and Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN).

Also, The organized Labour under the aegis of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) on Monday.picketed headquarters of Ikeja and Jos Electricity Distribution Companies preventing workers from resuming work.

The organised labour had sent reminder notices to all its branches, offices and affiliates in respect of a nationwide protest over the electricity tariff hike and removal of subsidy from the power sector by the federal government.

Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) had announced a hike in the electricity tariff for Band A customers on April 3, revealing that those affected would pay N225 per kilowatt-hour, up from the previous rate of N68/kWh.

The hike represented a 240 percent increase.

The development marked the removal of subsidy from the tariff of customers in the Band A category, who constituted about 15 percent of the total 12.82 million power consumers across the country.

Based on the tariff hike, the federal government said it would save N1.5tn.

But the House of Representatives, organised labour, the Nigerian Bar Association, Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, electricity consumers and civil society organisations, had demanded a reversal of the hike to the subsidy era tariff.

The House called on the NERC to suspend forthwith the implementation of the new electricity tariff nationwide.

However, justifying the increase during an investigative hearing held by the Senate Committee on Power, Minister of Power, Adebayo Adelabu, argued that there would be a nationwide blackout in the next three months if the increase in electricity tariff was not implemented.

He said this after the Senate Committee, chaired by Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, rejected the new tariff regime.

But NLC and TUC insisted on the reversal of the tariff hike and expressed dissatisfaction with the epileptic power situation in the country, which they said was affecting economic growth.

The unions had, last week, handed down a week ultimatum and threatened to picket NERC offices should a total reversal of the tariff to the subsidy era was not done. The ultimatum expired on Sunday May 12.

Curiously, in a move to appease the unions, the NERC had last Monday ordered a downward review of the tariff from 225/kWh to 206.8/kWh, representing approximately an 8.1 percent reduction.

The commission attributed the cut to the relative appreciation of the naira in the official foreign exchange window.

NERC also said the revision of the 2024 Multi-Year Tariff Order for Band A customers led to a reduction in tariffs for all discos.

Daily Champion learnt that the aggrieved workers were at the corporate headquarters of the Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company, singing and calling for the reversal of the Band A tariff.

True to their threat, workers stormed various offices of electricity distribution companies to protest over the Band A tariff hike.

Our correspondent gathered that policemen were in attendance to forestall any breakdown of law and order.

Just as in Ikeja, the sealing of Jos Electricity Distribution (JED) disco headquarters along Ahmadu Bello way in Plateau was carried out by Plateau chapter of NLC and TUC officials in compliance with the directive of the Organised Labour over the hike in Electricity Tariff.

Daily Champion Newspaper observed that workers of the electricity company were locked out by an enforcement team as early as 6:30 a m.

Confirming the action to our correspondent, Jos Disco spokesman Dr. Friday Elijah said the office of JED has been picketed.

“We were locked out, when we came to the office. It has been sealed, nobody is allowed to entered, even myself and the chief security officer also are outside. All of us came this morning for work, we were locked out. The office has been picketed and sealed”, he stated.

NLC chairman, Plateau state chapter, Comrade Eugene Manji, revealed that the place has been picketed and sealed in compliance with the directive of their National headquarters.

TUC calls for relief as hike in electricity tariffs worsens economic woes

The Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), has restated its opposition to the recent hike in electricity tarrifs,describing it as a devastating blow to already struggling citizens.

In a statement signed by the TUC, Lagos State Council chairman and Secretary, Comrades Gbenga Ekundayo and Aladetan Abiodun,respectively, the Congress condemned the hike which comes against the backdrop of skyrocketing prices, petrol subsidy removal and a crippling foreign exchange rate.

The statement warned that the tarrif increase will not only burden households, but also threaten businesses, particularly in the manufacturing sector,with production costs soaring and companies forced to pass on expenses to consumers or face closure.

To alleviate the crisis, the Congress urged the government to reconsider the tarrif hike, stabilize the exchange rate and invest in alternative energy sources, to reduce reliance the national grid.

It also called for enhanced efficiency in electricity distribution and management to achieve cost savings.

The statement stressed that the timing of the tarrif increase was inauspicious, given the prevailing economic challenges and urged policy makers to prioritize citizens’ welfare and implement measures promoting affordability and accessibility of essential services like electricity.

Meanwhile, Adamawa State chapter of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) on Monday, shutdown the regional offices of the Yola Electricity Distribution Company (YEDC) and the office of the Electricity Regulatory Commission of Nigeria (ERCN).

Mr. Emmanuel Fashe, the State NLC Chairman, who addressed members of the umion at the premises of the picketed offices in Yola, said the action was to protest exorbitant electricity tariff.

He said the tarriff on Ban A has reached 300 per cent, saying the indiscriminate charges was beyond the ability and capability of Nigerians.

“Our action to picket these offices was sequel to the directive from our headquaters and it is a nationwide action,” he said.

Fashe explained that categorising power supply into different ban was equal to creating division among Nigerians, adding that it was an attempt to eliminate the middle class.

“The tarriff hike was from N65 to N223, which is far above reasonable charges.

“The only services that were yet to be taxed by the federal government are the oxygen we breath and the rainfall on our farms,” he said.

The chairman used the occasion to caution the federal government against unpopular policies that were capable of inflicting hardship on the citizens.

Also, Mr. Dauda Adamu, the Chairman of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) in the state, urged government to sustain the subsidy on cost of social services for affordability of Nigerians.

He attributed the rising cost of living in Nigeria to the removal of fuel subsidy, insecurity and other unpopular government policies.

“We advise the government to revert back to the initial cost of the power supply as Nigerians will not be paying what they did not consume,” he said.

According to him, in their next protest all Nigerians will be mobilsed to partake in the protest, saying: “we ate tired of this life of servitude.”

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that both offices were under lock and keys and the staff on duty were asked to leave unconditionally.

.We’re not backtracking until FG reduces electricity tariff – Oyo NLC, TUC

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Oyo State Chapter, says it won’t backtrack on picketing the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC) until the Federal Government (FG) reduces the hiked electricity tariff.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that NLC alongside the Trade Union Congress (TUC) picketed offices of IBEDC and the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) in Ibadan on Monday.

The organised labour unions made the move as a result of the recent hike in electricity tariff by NERC.

Members of staff and customers at offices of IBEDC and NERC at the Ring Road Capital Building; Jericho, Dugbe and Oluyole were sent out with their gates locked by the unions.

Addressing newsmen, the Oyo State NLC Chairman, Mr Kayode Martins, said the unions would not backtrack on their demands until the FG reduced the electricity tariff.

According to Martins, it is unfair for the government to increase the electricity tariff when Nigerians are still battling economic hardship caused by the petrol subsidy removal.

He said Nigerians were not enjoying electricity supply, which he described as epileptic.

“Asking them to pay for what they are not enjoying is unfair.

“We are here to salvage the situation for the common man of this country.

“We are tired of all the policies being rolled out by our leaders, and people are finding it difficult to live conveniently as a result of these policies which are not properly laid out and implemented,” he said.

The Oyo State TUC Vice-Chairman, Mrs Ranti Sowemimo, affirmed that Nigerians were paying more for electricity they do not enjoy.

Sowemimo, therefore, called on the FG to reverse the hike to reduce the suffering faced by Nigerians.

NAN reports that members of the unions displayed placards with inscriptions such as “Nigeria workers and people reject electricity tariff hike”; “Reverse the tariff hike,” among others.