July 1, 2020

Electricity price hike: NLC rejects modern-day slavery on Nigerians by DISCOs

Ayuba Wabba

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) says it will mobilise workers to resist any attempts on hike in essential public utility charges.

Mr Ayuba Wabba, NLC President, gave the warning in a statement on Wednesday in Abuja.

Wabba said that Nigerians were still going through some of the worst socio-economic vicissitudes caused by the novel coronavirus disease.

The labour leader was reacting to the recent attempt by electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOs), acting under the auspices of the Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED), to unilaterally increase electricity tariff by about 100 per cent from 1st July 2020.

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He described the planned move as insensitive and provocative.

Wabba said that Nigerians would recall that a similar move was made in March 2020 by the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) but was successfully rebuffed by the NLC and the Nigerian public.

According to him, NLC rejects any further hike in electricity tariff, the pump price of petrol and other essential public utility charges.

“The NLC is fully ready to mobilise our people to resist attempts by anyone to impose modern-day slavery on Nigerians, be they DISCOs or Regulators of Public Utilities.

“We insist that further hike in tariff and user access charges at this time of great socio-economic dislocation would be ultra-insensitive, callous and a pre-meditated attempt to send many Nigerians, workers, pensioners and businesses to untimely graves.

“In the interest of fairness, equity and justice, we demand that the DISCOs refund Nigerians all the estimated billings that had been unjustly collected from our people all these years.

“We also demand that DISCOs must pay consumers the cost that their inefficiency has imposed on citizens, residents and businesses.

DISCOs must also repay bailout funds they had unjustly collected from public coffers.

“We wish to remind the DISCOs that the provision of pre-paid meters, transformers and investment in the sector are statutorily the job of the DISCOs, not consumers or the government,’’ he said.

Wabba said that DISCOs were fully aware of the conditions before subscribing to the power sector privatisation programme.

He added that enough of the lies, deceit and exploitation of the Nigerian people.

“On the strength of the open admission by DISCOs in Nigeria to their own grand incompetence and crass failure, we call on the Federal Government to immediately set in motion processes for the review of the power sector privatisation. Enough is enough.

“The leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress reiterates its resolve to act on the side and in the interest of the Nigerian people, workers and pensioners always,’’ Wabba added.

He also commended the intervention by the Senate in calling off the threat by Electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOs) to hike the electricity tariff.