Officials of the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress made this position known in separate interviews with our correspondent on Tuesday, while reacting to the announcement by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission of a slight increase in tariff from June 1, 2014.
According to them, any increase in electricity tariff should only be contemplated when there is stable power supply across the country.
NERC had on Monday announced an increase in electricity tariff by between N1 and N5 for different cadres of consumers.
The Chairman, NERC, Dr. Sam Amadi, had told our correspondent that the new tariff would take effect from June 1 as provided for in the Multi-Year Tariff Order, adding that with the review, most electricity distribution companies would retain the N750 fixed charge.
But reacting to the announcement, the Chairman, NLC, Lagos, Mr. Idowu Adelakun, said the union would resist such a move.
He said the commission’s announcement of tariff increase was unacceptable and advised NERC to conduct another review of the tariff structure.
Adelakun said, “Why do people make such kind of decisions in this country? Power supply is not even regular and still they are announcing an increase in tariff, no matter how little. This shows that they are not serious and we are going to reject it in totality. We are not going to accept it.
“The promise made by the Federal Government was that within six months that the power sector was handed over to the new investors, there would be steady supply. And it also said that if the power firms failed, they might be sanctioned. But it is now over six months and the situation is even worse than what it used to be, yet they want to increase tariff.
“We are not going to take that from them. They should first of all allow power to be stable before effecting any increase. If power is stable, when you talk of any increase, Nigerians will be happy to receive it. But when it is not regular, you want to increase tariff based on what?”
The Lagos Chapter Chairman, TUC, Mr. Akeem Kazeem, told our correspondent that although the union had not made its position known to the press, it would not support any increase in tariff.
He faulted NERC for going ahead to announce the change in tariff and stressed that many civil servants earned meagre salaries and should not spend most of their earnings on electricity bills.
Kazeem said, “Power supply now is nothing to write home about. You hardly have power and at the end of the day, they will give you skyrocketed bills. And yet they are still saying there will be an increase. Now, how do you expect us to manage that? We are not in support of it and we condemn it.
“We are calling on the management of the power firms and their regulator to have a rethink, especially when what we earn as salaries cannot be regarded as take-home pay. To now use almost half of our salary to pay for electricity will not be in the interest of the Nigerian worker. They should reverse that decision.”
– The Punch