June 11, 2024

Electricity tariff Hike: Reps tackle NLC over failure to honour invitation

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By Gift ChapiOdekina, Abuja

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Abbas Tajudeen, and the joint Committee on Power, National, Planning and Economic Development, Commerce, and Delegated Legislations, on Tuesday condemned the decision of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), and some Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) over failure to appear for a public hearing on the recent increase in electricity tariff.

The House had following the public condemnation that trailed the tariff increase, passed a resolution, mandating the joint Committee to investigate the rationale behind the development, which it fixed for Tuesday, but was shocked to see only a few of the CSOs inh attendance, and the organised labour having no representation.

Angered by the development, lead chairman of the panel, and chairman of the Committee on Power, Hon. Victor Nwokolo during the meeting in Abuja informed Speaker Tajudeen who was represented by his Deputy, Hon. Benjamin Kalu that in spite of repeated communications between the NLC and the Committee, the labour leaders went to Geneva, to attend an ILO conference.

He recalled that the Committee had requested the NLC to send its memorandum, and a representative to the hearing which it ignored. “It is very disheartening that after communication between NLC and the Secretariat to explain that what we’re saying is; do your submission and let someone represent you, but no.

“But these are the same people who were quick to shut down the National Grid. We’re sure the Secretariat of the NLC and the TUC are not under locks and keys, so someone can represent them”, he said, explaining how the committee in a letter dated June 6, 2024 in reply to NLC’s of May 31, 2014 had insisted on transmission of labour’s position through a memorandum.

Also in his reaction, Hon. Ishiaka Ayokunle condemned CSOs which had only three represented. “Talk is cheap. To criticise is very cheap”, he said, adding that it was disappointing for them to snub invitation to come share their positions on an important matter, but prefer social media criticisms.

Responding, the Speaker, represented by Kalu said he is joining his colleagues in condemning action of the labour leaders, “for preferring to be in Geneva rather than partnering with the parliament”, stressing that it is fair enough to condemn policies of the Executive, but that such would have been more credible if routed through the people’s representatives.

Before declaring the even opened, the Speaker said that it was evident the tariff hike “has not been well-received by our citizens. Numerous voices, including organized labor and industry experts, have voiced their strong opposition to this decision”, adding that it was in the light of that the House convened the public hearing.