A coalition of human rights activists, lawyers, journalists and the organized labour, has petitioned the United Nation’s Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, Magdalena Carmona, to urge the Nigerian government to suspend its planned increase of electricity tariff.
The alliance asked the UN body to appeal to President Goodluck Jonathan to “delay the increased fixed rate electricity tariffs until the government is able to put in place mechanisms to ensure regular and uninterrupted electricity supply.”
Nigeria currently produces below 4,000 Megawatts of electricity to feed a population of over 160 million people.
“By introducing fixed rate electricity tariffs, the government is complicit in violating the human rights of people living in poverty and undermining their personal development and prosperity,” the coalition wrote in a statement.
The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission announced the implementation the Multi Year Tariff Order 2 (MYTO II) in March 2012. Under the MYTOII, electricity tariff will be increased yearly.
The coalition called on the Special Rapporteur to visit Nigeria and “conduct an in-depth investigation into the effects of the increased electricity tariff on people living in poverty”.
The coalition said any increase in electricity tariff, while Nigerians still face an appalling power supply, is a violation of the human rights of Nigerians under the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights.
“We believe that the increased fixed rate electricity tariffs by over a hundred percent without corresponding increase in electricity supply target some of the most marginalized and impoverished members of Nigerian society, many of whom are struggling with basic living costs and without access to regular electricity.”
The coalition said the government cannot use privatization as an excuse to arbitrarily increase electricity tariff.
“Under international law, both the process and the implementation of privatization should be consistent with human rights. Therefore, the government is not relieved of its human rights responsibilities by privatizing the provision of basic services such as electricity,” the coalition further argued.
Signatories to the petition are: Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism, Nigerian Union of Journalists, Lagos State Council, Nigerian Labour Congress, Lagos State branch; Nigeria Bar Association, Ikeja branch; National Union of Food Beverage and Tobacco Employees and Joint Action Front.
Others are: Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre, Women Empowerment and Legal Aid Initiative, Partnership for Justice, Campaign for Democratic Workers, Democratic Socialist Movement, Civil Society Network Against Corruption, and Education Rights Campaign.
– Premium Times