Tariff hike: Labour to picket power companies on Monday

*Nigeria Labour Congress.

*Nigeria Labour Congress.

Oscarline Onwuemenyi

30 January 2016, Sweetcrude, Abuja — The Nigeria Labour Congress, Trade Union Congress of Nigeria and Civil Society Organisations have announced plans to will picket electricity distribution companies across the country on Monday to resist the increase in electricity tariff slated to commence on February 1.

The groups described the decision by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission to increase the tariff as “illegal, unfair, unjustifiable and a means to exploit Nigerians.”

In a communiqué released on Friday and obtained by our correspondent in Abuja, the groups said the increase could not be justified as there had not been any significant improvement in service delivery and most consumers do not have meters.

The communiqué was jointly signed by the NLC President, Ayuba Wabba; President, TUC, Bobboi Kaigama; Co-ordinator, Electricity Consumer Protection Forum, Adeola Samuel-Ilori; a human rights activist, Toluwani Yemi-Adebiyi; and Publicity Secretary, Campaign for Democratic and Workers’ Rights, Chinedu Bosah.

While addressing journalists shortly after its National Executive Council meeting in Lagos on Friday, the groups said the tariff increase was contrary to the agreement reached with the Federal Government during the privatisation of the electricity companies.

The unions said the agreement, as contained in the Memorandum of Understanding signed on November 1, 2013, stated that all customers must be metered within an 18-month gestation period before any tariff increase.

In addition, the groups said that there was a subsisting suit dated May 28, 2015 before Justice Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos in the case of Toluwani Yemi-Adebiyi versus NERC, in which the latter had been barred from increasing electricity tariff pending the determination of the suit.

The President, Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, Bobboi Kaigama, alleged that the government did not follow due process in effecting the increase.

According to him, “If the Federal Government goes ahead by February 1, 2016 to implement the increase in electricity tariff as intended, the Nigerian workers and their civil society coalition will close all the offices of the Gencos, and the Discos in this country.

“And not only that, we will go ahead to charge them to court for contempt because the government is aware of the ruling by the Federal High Court in Lagos stopping the increase.

“And if the government that is preaching due process and the rule of law can disobey the law, then Nigerians will resort to self-help and that is what we are going to do as soon as the increase is announced.”

The acting Chairman of NERC, Dr. Anthony Akah said last week that there was no going back on the new tariffs.

Akah had explained that revenue from the new tariff would enable the power distribution, generation and transmission companies to acquire needed infrastructure.

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