Sat. Jul 20th, 2024

Nigerian Trade Unions Picket Electricity Companies Over Tariff

By Longtong Ibrahim

Kaduna (Nigeria) – Hundreds of Nigerians Monday stormed and sealed offices of Electricity Distribution Companies nationwide over recent 45 percent hike in electricity tariff.

Two biggest umbrella trade unions in the country, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) last week said all offices of the Electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOs); Generation Companies (GENCOs), nationwide would be picketed if government fails to revert to the former tariff.

In carrying out the planned action, protesters marched to various offices of the electricity companies across Nigeria.

Early in the morning In Kaduna, North West Nigeria, protesters arrived the Zonal headquarters, as well as operational offices within the metropolis, directing all staff to vacate the office premises. They also carried placards with various inscriptions.

The same action took place in Gombe northeast Nigeria, where labour members marched to the electricity companies forcing workers to vacate premises.

The trade unions claim that Nigerian government has failed to honour a signed privatization Memorandum of Understanding, MOU, signed on November 1, 2013, which stipulates that within 18 months gestation period, all consumers are to be metered. Also, there should be significant improvement in service delivery.

But this is not the case, because most Nigerians have remained without meter to measure their consumption rate.

According to NLC Leader in Gombe, Haruna Kamara, “the increment at this time negates the present biting and prevailing economic recession. It is also an attempt to further impoverish poor Nigerians.”

Kaduna NLC Chairman, Adamu Ango, said “Nigerians must get value for the services they pay for, noting that the protest continues until government responds.

Former deputy president of the NLC, Issa Aremu, in a remarks called on President Muhammadu  Buhari to urgently revisit the report of the 2014 national conference and implement the holistic recommendations for the power sector, instead of allowing the same unhelpful posting of high tariff by under-performing generating and distribution companies.

Meanwhile, a statement by the head of Cooperate Communications of Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company (KEDC), Abdulaziz Abdullahi, quoted the Managing Director of KEDC Garba Haruna, advising trade unions to stop their action on the distribution companies, as the nation cannot afford any disruption in power supply.

It says, “The current economic challenges facing the country makes the planned action of the labour movements ill-motivated and counterproductive.”

It further says, “For the first time, in the history of Nigeria’s power sector, electricity generation has hit an all-time high of 5,075MW, demonstrating the evolution and progress in the capacity of the sector to meet the country’s power needs, a major requirement in the drive to grow the nation’s economy and improve quality of life,” he contended.

Garba reiterated that the new tariff regime recently approved by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), is not only about tariff increment, “It is a comprehensive master plan aimed at having a cost reflective tariff for the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry. The new tariff will enable the actors in the electricity value chain (generation, transmission and distribution companies) to cover the cost of their operations and attract further investment in the power sector.

“It shall also guarantee sustainable growth in the power sector and ensure stable and qualitative power supply across the country.

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