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Tariff hike: Labour insists on reversal, pickets NERC, DisCos’ offices

The organised labour Monday insisted on total reversal of the recent electricity tariff hike before considering the option of dialogue. Daily Trust had reported how…

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

Daily Trust had reported how the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) announced that they would picket offices of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and Distribution Companies (DisCos) nationwide as a result of the failure to comply with their demand of total reversal of electricity tariff hike.

The 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.”

 

Security operatives on guard in Jos

In Plateau State, the NLC picketed the headquarters of Jos Electricity Distribution Company (JEDC) over electricity tariff hike.

Our correspondent reports that the labour union blocked the main gate of the company, leaving the staff of the DisCo stranded outside the main building.

Security operatives including the police, Department of State Services (DSS) and Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) were seen around the entrance of the company.

 

It’s daylight robbery – Kogi NLC

The Chairman of NLC in Kogi State, Comrade Gabriel Amari, yesterday described the increase in electricity tariff as daylight robbery which could not stand.

Amari said this when organised labour picketed the office of Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) in Lokoja. 

He urged the government to reverse the electricity tariff increase for the sake of already pauperised citizens.

He said the new tariff regime has created the impression that the present administration has no feeling for the suffering masses.

Comrade Amari added that failure of the government to reverse the increase in electricity tariffs will result in the total shut down of the power sector in the country.

According to him, labour is the only voice that can stop the policies of the government that are anti-people.

 

They’re insensitive – Ogun labour chair

During the protest in Ogun State, members of NLC and TUC sealed off the business office of the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC) in the Leme area of Abeokuta.

Speaking to journalists, the Chairman of TUC, Akeem Lasisi berated NERC for increasing electricity tariff without consulting the organised labour and other stakeholders.

Lasisi blamed the failure of the privatisation of the power sector on the “inefficiency” of the government, saying “Nigerians must not suffer for the inefficiency of our leaders.

“We reject this totally, workers are mostly hit because amidst this increase our salaries remain stagnant, amidst the increase in school fees, amidst the increase in exchange rate, amidst the increase in prices of commodities and services in the country, our own salaries remain stagnant.

“Discos that could not install prepaid meters to all electricity consumers do not have the guts to increase electricity tariff; that is why we are saying that the privatisation policy of all these DisCos should be automatically reversed.

“NERC should concentrate more on regulating the DisCos instead of increasing the electricity tariff; we are saying that Nigerians should not be short-changed. This policy should be stopped, Nigerians should be allowed to breathe, enough is enough, we reject this totally”, Lasisi said.

Also speaking, the NLC chairman in the state, Hameed Benco called on President Bola Tinubu to compel NERC to revert the hiked electricity tariff.

 

Outrage in Bauchi, Kano, Yola, Jalingo, Kaduna

Chairman of NLC in Bauchi, Comrade Dauda Shuaibu, and his counterpart in TUC, Comrade Sabiu Barau Ningi, spoke during the protest.

Similarly, members of the organised labour picketed the head offices of Kano Electricity Distribution Company (KEDCO) and NERC in Kano over the electricity tariff hike.

The aggrieved members of NLC and TUC stood at the entrance gate of the KEDCO head office Monday morning, holding placards with various inscriptions.

Speaking on behalf of the unions, the chairperson of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Mubarak Buba Yarima, lamented that the federal government has suffocated Nigerians with its policies.

The NLC in Taraba State also picketed the Jalingo office of Yola Electric Distribution Company located opposite the Central Bank of Nigeria along Barde Way early Monday morning.

In Kaduna, the leadership of the NLC and the TUC yesterday picketed the headquarters of the Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company along the ever busy Bank Road by Ahmadu Bello Way, chanting solidarity songs as they laid siege to the office.

The organised labour led by Kaduna NLC and TUC chairmen, Comrades Ayuba Magaji Suleiman and Alhassan Danfulani, called for immediate reversal of the tariff, which is currently taking its toll on the ordinary Nigerians.

Labour leaders in Ilọrin, the Kwara State capital on Monday joined their counterparts across the country to demand a reversal to the recently announced hike in electricity tariff by the federal government.

The labour leaders who marched across major streets in Ilọrin displayed several placards and chanted slogans to register their displeasure over the development.

They also picketed the offices of the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC), across the metropolis.

Speaking during the rally at Challenge office of the IBEDC, the state Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Muritala Saheed Olayinka, said the workers would embark on a total strike if the government fails to reverse the tariff.

On Monday, the NLC in Jigawa State picketed the office of NERC and sealed the KEDCO district office in Dutse, the state capital.

Led by Comrade Hazakilu Husaini, Vice Chairman of the NLC, and Comrade Bashir Tijjani Abubakar, Chairman of the TUC state branch, the union executives and members blocked the main gate of the KEDCO office, leaving staff stranded outside the building.

In Oyo State, the labour leaders took over the office of the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company to protest against the hike.

In Edo and Ondo states, the two unions also picketed offices of the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) and NERC.

There was also a joint protest and picketing of the office of the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHED) in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State on Monday.

Anambra workers also protested at the offices of NERC and the Enugu Electricity Development Company (EEDC) in Awka.

In Lagos, the two unions took to the street at the state’s capital- Ikeja yesterday to express their outcries, displaying placards with inscription ‘NLC/TUC reject demonic band A tariff’.

 

Reports from Idowu Isamotu (Abuja), Ado A. Musa, Yusufu Aminu Idegu (Jos), Tijani Labaran (Lokoja), Peter Moses, Dotun Omisakin, Samuel Fagbemi (Lagos), Hassan Ibrahim (Bauchi), Salim Umar Ibrahim (Kano), Magaji Isa Hunkuyi (Jalingo), Maryam Ahmadu-Suka (Kaduna), Mumini Abdulkareem (Ilorin), Ali Rabiu Ali (Dutse), Kaffi Adenike (Ibadan), Usman A. Bello (Benin), Tosin Tope (Akure), Bassey Willie (Yenagoa), Titus Eleweke (Awka) & Tosin Tope (Akure)

 

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