20 December 2017, Sweetcrude, Abuja – Organised labour and civil society organisations in the country have vowed to resist attempts by the National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to increase electricity tariff by over 61 percent.
Speaking recently at a rally, leader of the Campaign for Democratic and Workers’ Rights (CDWR), Comrade Toluwani Adebiyi, said the move was totally unacceptable and unrealistic, judging from the present economic situation of the country.
He said, “The increment is totally unaffordable, considering the biting economic hardship assailing the already impoverished masses.”
Adebiyi recalled that the electricity distribution companies (Discos) were yet to honour the agreements they signed with the Federal Government in November 2013 to issue prepaid metres to all Nigeria consumers within 18 months, as failure to do so has in recent times led to over-billing of customers, making them pay for darkness.
According to him, “It will amount to a rude disrespect to the rule of law to talk of increment now when the matter that touches so much on tariff increment is still pending in court, Nigerians have been paying for gross darkness with no value in return for the exorbitant bill paid by consumers.”
Furthermore, Mr. Adebiyi urged NERC to ensure that the electricity generating companies (Gencos) generate enough power for the Discos. He also advised the Federal Government to revoke private companies license and take over the sector if the private companies cannot stabilise and improve power in Nigeria after four years of privatisation.
“The Nigeria power sector for long has been taking undue advantage of and exploiting Nigerian electricity consumers. Until the labour group and civil society organisations decided to take up and challenge their inordinate trade practices,” he added.
Meanwhile, various groups have come out to protest against the against the planned hike in electricity tariff by the Federal Government while demanding that prepaid metres are installed in all houses in the country.
The groups involved in the protest include the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM), Ajegunle People Movement (APM) and Surulere Community Association (SCA).
They all called on the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), United Labour Congress (ULC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the leaders of National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) to declare a day of action against the failed agenda of privatisation, which hasn’t improved the electricity sector but has further benefitted “private profiteers”.
“There should be a cancellation of all outstanding debts accumulated on the basis of estimated bills,” they stated while insisting that there should also be no payment for darkness or disconnection fees.
A lawyer, Mr. Toluwani Adebiyi, who participated in the protest, urged the government to stop the proposed 61.5 % increment of electricity tariff.
He explained that the increment would infuriate and pitch the people against the government. Adebiyi said the economic recession has done enough damage to the ailing image of the government and by increasing the electricity tariff, it would escalate the hardship in the country.
He called on the people to resist the increase, noting that, “Distribution Companies (Discos) cannot increase tariff when electricity supply across the nation clearly remains epileptic.”