Here’s why the NLC is protesting over high electricity tariffs in Nigeria
Electricity distribution companies (DISCOs) around the country are being fenced in today at their offices, by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC), and other national civil service organisations and electricity consumers in protest of the recently hiked electricity tariffs which they opine do not reflect the current economic hardship that Nigeria and Nigerians are faced with.
Tariffs were increased with varying rates between 45.1 and 53.5 percent, depending on the category of electricity consumption that users fell within. Consumers under the Abuja and Eko DISCOs presently witness a 48.1 and 53.3 percent increase respectively, while those under Ikeja, Kaduna, Benin, Ibadan, and Enugu DISCOs are witnessing 53.5, 53.5, 49.62, 45.1, and 45.9 percent increases. This comes after the announcement from the Minister of Power, Works, and Housing Babatunde Raji Fashola, in December 2015.
Fashola’s announcement last year was largely met with disapproval from manufacturers, congresses and unions, and the general public, despite him sharing his vision on how an increment now would attract investment in the sector and account for a reform. The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) further noted that the increment in tariffs will bring about consumer satisfaction. According to Fashola, there will be going back on the decision.
NLC responded in January with threats to shut down the DISCOs if the Federal Government implemented the decision. Comrade Ayuba Wada, NLC president, stated at the time that the proposal was both illegal and unfair, and would only serve to further worsen the economic situation of the Nigerian masses, in a bid to make the Federal Government see reason. He then called on Nigerians to support the plans to reject the hike.
In a statement released by the NLC last Friday, Wada disclosed that the protest had became inevitable, as efforts to get NERC to rescind the decision of a tariff hike were fruitless. Dr. Peter Oso-Ezon, NLC’s General Secretary revealed that the protest is simply the first of many actions that the congresses have planned to take against the tariff hike, while also laying out the itinerary for the protest in Abuja. According to him, all the relevant stakeholders in the issue have been “effectively mobilised for the protest.”
Such stakeholders include the National Union of Textiles, Garment, and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria (NUTGTWN) and Toiletries and Cosmetics Group, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (T and C group of MAN), among others, with the former lending its full support to the ongoing protest. Comrade Issa Aremu of the textiles and garment union observed that his industry relies on energy with about 30 – 35 percent of such related costs.
According to him, industrialisation could not take place without electricity, and the president’s plan to revive the textile manufacturing industry is impossible without electricity.
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