NLC rejects new electricity tariff

By The Citizen

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has condemned  the multi-year tariff designed by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).

In a statement Sunday in Abuja, the NLC President, Abdulwaheed Omar, said that the congress rejected the latest figures because of the epileptic electricity supply and the low purchasing power of the working people.

The Congress said: 'The previous year, the charge which was N225, has been arbitrarily increased to over N700. This review whether done suddenly or in advance is without justification or rationale and stands condemned as it will negate whatever gains (that are) expected to be recorded by the much-vaunted reform in the power sector.'

It stated that it believed that the multi-year tariff structure as designed by the NERC, which was 'tacitly' approved by government, only protects the interest of investors in the electricity sector and has little or no consideration for consumers, most of whom are poor and incapable of paying.

The Congress further said that it was indeed exploitative and saddening that the review was not accompanied by commensurate improved services.

'If anything, electricity service delivery has plummeted over the years with consumers compelled to pay exorbitant tariff rates for incompetence, poor service and fraud,' it said.

It said that judging from the yearly percentage increase (which covers a 15-year period in the first instance), it was predictable that less than 10 per cent of consumers would be able to pay the outrageous tariff in the next few years.

According to NLC, the structuring of electricity tariffs that are unreasonable and unaffordable has grave implications for the economy and the people.

It stressed that the step was a sad commentary on the electricity reform process, as it questioned the transparency, viability and ability to deliver in the interest of the nation.

The Congress therefore warned against sheepish attempts to duplicate the electricity reform process elsewhere as well as the attendant corruption.

It said: 'A viable power sector is key to revamping and repositioning the economy. Accordingly, nothing should be done to undermine this objective. However, a reform process which does not carry along its people or protect their interest has only one direction to go - the abyss - and stands condemnable.'

The Congress therefore called on the Federal Government to direct NERC to urgently retrace its steps and review downward the entire multi-year tariff structure in the interest of the people.