29 May 2014, Abuja – Trade Union Congress has said that plans to increase electricity tariff in the face of poor power supply will lend credence to the belief that the government is seeking to impoverish Nigerians.
Affirming its resolve to resist the planned increase, the TUC said in a statement jointly signed by its President and Secretary-General, Mr. Bobboi Kaigama and Mr. Musa Lawal, respectively, that the move was queer and uncalled for.
It said the plan was another deliberate attempt by some cabal to further exploit the already impoverished masses, especially as the power supply and distribution situation had remained comatose even after the privatisation of the sector.
“By encouraging the private investors to increase tariff for electricity that is not being supplied, the government is lending credence to the belief in some quarters that these so-called private companies were floated by the political elite to further impoverish the Nigerian people,” it said.
The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission had on Monday announced plans to increase electricity tariff from June 1, 2014.
The TUC, however, said it was indefensible that the government had apparently concluded plans to increase the tariff instead of prevailing on the private sector electricity providers to increase power supply and distribution in the country.
“We are particularly galled by the fact that although the power sector has gulped billions of naira, the country still appears hopelessly trapped in a vicious circle of non-productivity and lack of adequate power supply, essentially because of the insincerity and corrupt practices of our ‘ogas at the top,’” it said.
The NERC had announced that the unit cost of electricity would increase by N1 per kilowatt for customers in the R2 category from next month. It said the fixed charge, which was to rise to N1,500 from June 1 in the Multi Year Tariff Order for 2014, would remain at N750 for some customers.
But the union noted that the truth of the matter was that Nigerians desired stable and affordable power supply.
It added, “Incidentally, since November 1, 2013 when the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria was ceded to 18 successor firms, electricity generation in the country has revolved around 3,000 megawatts.
“It is, therefore, clear that the private sector investors have not performed any miracle to improve electricity supply; instead, they are bent on imposing higher tariff on helpless Nigerians who are already paying exorbitant bills for the power they do not consume. In the circumstance, we advice the commission not to contemplate any increment in electricity tariff until there is appreciable stability in the sector across the country.”
– The Punch