By Victor Young
United Labour Congress of Nigeria, ULC, has commended the Federal Government over suspension of plans by Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, to hike electricity tariff from April 1.
The union said a hike would have worsened the poverty level and social tension in the country.
ULC, in a statement by its President, Joe Ajaero, insisted that but for the intervention of the Presidency, which ordered the suspension, NERC would have thrown the country into chaos.
It called on the government to suspend the planned hike indefinitely.
Joe Ajaero, said among other things, said: “It is indeed a shame that the NERC wanted to hide under this time of global lockdown, anxiety and mourning to foist on the people greater suffering instead of alleviating them, which is the essence of governance all over the world.
“It is unheard off anywhere that institutions hide under this kind of cover to inflict pain on the people. That is unacceptable and will not go unchallenged.
“ULC wants to warn that if nothing is done by NERC to stop following this very unacceptable path and immediately cancel the implementation of this less than honourable hike in electricity tariff, we would be forced to take action to protect Nigerians and Nigerian workers.
“This, therefore, should serve as a notice to the government which has refused to stop NERC, which it supervises, from carrying out an obvious cowardly action, which seeks to kick citizens that are already suffering further into dust.
“We believe that if the NERC cannot show enough sensitivity to the plight of the citizenry at this time, then as representatives of the workers and citizens, we would be forced to also rise to the occasion with measured and compelling response that would dissuade them from pursuing this dangerous path.
“This is the time for sober reflection and we urge all institutions of government to act in the best interests of the people, as the ultimate aim of governance is the protection of the people— nothing else. NERC must be supportive of the people.
“The hike which was scheduled to come into effect on April 1, or any other date without improvement in generating, transmission and distribution capacity up to 10,000 megawatts is completely unacceptable to us in the United Labour Congress of Nigeria, ULC.
“Nigerian workers did not accept it when it was proposed earlier and this has not changed, especially as the nation faces the very existential threat of the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Periods of outbreaks do not require further hardship, but palliatives to cushion the people from the fears and difficulties that would follow.
“Congress had thought that it would have been more sensitive and responsive to have called off NERC; which is beginning to look like a tormentor-in-chief of the Nigerian people from the wrong-headed policy of increasing the price of electricity on realising not just the resistance of the citizenry and majority of the stakeholders, but also the new challenges confronting the Nigerian masses and companies who are the major consumers of electricity in Nigeria.
“COVID-19 is the new reality and its consequences are dire and real.
“When nothing much has been done to alleviate the sufferings of the people at this time and the handling of the global pandemic less than normal, we should not be seen pursuing actions that would further emasculate the people.
“Nigerians expect that they be provided with greater comfort and succour to protect them from the worries and ultimate affliction, which the outbreak has become rather than this electricity tariff hike, which will definitely make life more difficult for majority of the citizenry.
“This is not a strange expectation from the people but what is strange is that NERC seem to have decided to act on the converse.”