Organised labour has moved against the new electricity tariff that commenced June 1, 2014, describing the hike as anti-people and anti-labour.
Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC; Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC; National Electricity Employees, NUEE; and the National Union of Textile, Garment, Tailoring Workers of Nigeria, NUTGTWN, insist that the income of the average Nigerian cannot accommodate the extra cost of living that any increase in price of power would provoke.
The Federal Government through the Chairman of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission NERC, Mr. Sam Amadi, recently announced an increment in electricity tariff by 8.36 per cent, from N13.75 per unit to N14.90 per unit.
Reacting to the hike, TUC in a statement by its President and Secretary General, Bobboi Bala Kaigama and Musa Lawal, respectively, said, “TUC received with dismay the recent announcement by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission to increase electricity tariff from 1st of June, 2014.
To us the move is queer and uncalled for and another deliberate attempt by some cabal to further exploit the already impoverished masses of the country, especially as the power supply and distribution situation has remained comatose even after the privatisation of the sector, contrary to the federal government’s promise to tackle the inherent challenges.
“We find it indefensible that the Government has apparently concluded plans to increase the tariffs instead of prevailing on private sector electricity providers to increase power supply and distribution in the country.
Need we remind ourselves of the demise of many industries within the last few years? Need we list out the multitude of companies that have either gone under or fled the country because of high cost of generating power for their plants?
Or shall we tender statistics of the millions of Nigerians who are jobless and many of whom have taken to vices that create insecurity in our land? 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 un-productivity and lack of adequate power supply, essentially because of the insincerity and corrupt practices of our leaders.
“NERC recently announced that electricity cost will increase by N1 per kilowatt for customers in R2 category from next month, and that the electricity Fixed Charge (FC) which was to rise to N1,500 from 1st June in the Multi-Year Tariff Order (MYTO) for 2014 will remain at N750 for some customers. We were further told that some positive variables triggered the significant changes in the proposed tariff regime. For instance, whilst MYTO in 2012 had projected a 13 percent inflation rate, it was at 7.8 percent by March 30, a difference of 5.2 percent. Also, exchange rate of $1 to N178 from CBN data was 11.6 percent less than the projected, at N157.30 per $1 as at 30th March.”
According to TUC, “The truth of the matter is that most Nigerians are indifferent to all these terms. All they desire is stable and affordable power supply. Incidentally, since 1st November, 2013 when the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) was ceded to 18 successor firms, electricity generation in the country has revolved around 3,000mw. Indeed power generation dropped from 4,105mw in April, to 3,674mw as at 24th May, 2014, according to the Daily Operational Report of the Transmission Company of Nigeria.
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 power they do not consume. In the circumstance, we advise the commission not to contemplate any increment in electricity tariff until there is appreciable stability in the sector across the country.
“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.
We demand that NERC jettisons this hike or risk incurring the wrath of workers and other Nigerians. The new tariff hike is anti-people and anti-labour. We therefore call on the management of the power firms and their regulator to have a rethink about it.
The income of the average Nigerian cannot accommodate the extra cost of living that any increase in price of power would provoke. Neither can the social fabric withstand the negative fallouts of such ill-advised action. Those who have ears let them hear.”
TUC called “on all Nigerian workers and other Nigerians to gird their loins in readiness to resist the planned increase if the Government attempts to implement.”
Also speaking, the President of NLC, Abdulwaheed Omar, said, “We have followed with keen interest the reform process in the energy sector which culminated in the sale of the power stations and related assets. The reform was premised on a profound improvement in service delivery. Remarkably, however, service delivery has plummeted, throwing the nation into darkness and raising further the cost of living and of doing business.”