By Victor Ahiuma-Young
Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, has rejected the new hike in electricity tariff by the Federal Government, noting that the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, was conniving with electricity providers against Nigerians, and undermining the system and ongoing negotiations.
The union said Organised Labour would resist the new hike, as it would kill businesses.
The President of NLC, Ayuba Wabba, who expressed shock, said this, adding that if allowed to stand, it will not only kill businesses, but will worsen the poverty line across the country, contending that the increment is condemnable and an attempt to undermine the system.
He said: “This is not only condemnable, but there is an element of deceit in it because there is a standing committee of the Federal Government, which the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, is part of, still working on how to address the issue arising from the last electricity tariff hike.
“Most of the committee members are not even aware of this current increase.
“Basically, we are going to resist it and Nigerians must also stand up to resist it. It is like exploitation and it means that this exploitation will not have an end.
“When you look at the variables, it is even laughable. You are looking at the variable of inflation and the variable of the exchange rate which is supposed to be the responsibility of government to fix.
“I am sure that most of our manufacturers, both small and medium scale will not be able to afford all these.
“They have been crying and the implication is also that there would be some layoffs because people will now resort to importation.
“Certainly, it will further impoverish Nigerians especially workers. Currently, we are under the yoke of paying excessive charges over all services, and on this important commodity, is the worse off.
“It is really unfortunate also because. In many climes, governments are subsidising power because of the impact of COVID-19 on businesses, health and the world of work— including African countries.
“I have said time without number that Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, is conniving with the service providers instead of siding with customers.
“Even the very important laws that are put in place to guide against such arbitrary increases have not been respected.
“You also remember that establishments including very critical infrastructures, hospitals and the media houses have complained about the previous hike because it is not affordable.
“Doing this without even consultations means that there is intent to undermine the system. So, this is very worrisome and that is why I think it has to be condemned.”
On his part, Deputy President of NLC, and General Secretary of the National Union of Electricity Employees, NUEE, as well as a member of the Federal Government Standing Committee on Tariff, Joe Ajaero, who was taken aback by the increase, simply said: “It is not possible.”