Labour begins nationwide protests to stop 45% increase in electricity tariffs

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United Bank for Africa

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and their civil society allies have given notice that they will hold street protests on Monday against the 45 per cent increase in electricity tariffs announced by the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission.

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Announcing this in a statement issued on Thursday and signed the NLC president, Ayuba Wabba, the labour unions and civil groups said the protest will hold Monday, February 8, in Abuja and across the nation.

“It is a nation-wide protest, meaning that the 36 states of the Federation including Abuja will be involved in this action,” Wabba said.

“Our members have been sufficiently mobilized and are ready to go. If you are an electricity consumer and you are not happy with the bills electricity companies serve you every month, you are invited to join this protest rally.”

He said the Abuja rally will start at Labour House, Central Business District at 8.00am before moving to the NERC head office at Adamawa Plaza, Plot 1099, First Avenue, Off Shehu Shagari Way, Central Business District.

From the NERC office, the rally will roll to the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company at Zone 4.

The rally will mobilise from there to the National Assembly.

The labour groups said the protest rally became necessary after all efforts to make NERC shelve the idea of increase failed.

“Indeed, rather than see reason with Nigerians, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing has been advancing spurious argument in justification.”

According to the statement, the reasons for this protest include: due process in the extant laws for such increment was not followed in consonance with section 76 of the Power Sector Reform Act, 2005; there has been no significant improvement in service delivery; and most consumers are not metered in accordance with the signed privatization Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) of November 1, 2013, which stipulates that within 18 months gestation period, all consumers are to be metered.

The other reasons include: there is a subsisting Court Order dated 28th May, 2015 by Justice Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos, in the case of Toluwani Yemi-Adebiyi versus NERC & Orders, that there shall be no further increment until the determination of the substantive suit; and the increment at this time negates the present biting and prevailing economic recession vis-a-vis an attempt to further impoverish the poor masses.

The statement noted that stakeholders, on Increment in Electricity Tariff (a broad coalition) met in Lagos on January 28, 2016 and issued a communiqué demanding an “immediate halt of this morbid and exploitative intention” of tariff increase, failure of which would lead to mobilization of all Nigerians to resist the new tariff; mass protests/picketing of all DISCOs’ offices across the country; directing all consumers to reject any bill with the new tariff and other actions necessary.