Labour plans mass protest against electricity tariff hike

By The Rainbow
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Labour crisis is brewing. The cause is the recent incrament of electricity tariff by 45 per cent across the country.

The Federal Government has said that that is the right way to go if the country’s perennial problem of power outages are to be solved, but the organised thinks that the government has got it all wrong.

The main umbrella body of workers in Nigeria, The Nigeria Labour Congress on Thursday announced its resolve to shut down the economy on Monday in protest against the  electricity tariff hike.

The NLC sai
According to the NLC, the  planned protest is in conjunction with the Trade Union Congress, civil society organisations and electricity consumers.

The position of the NLC was communicated in a statement on Thursday by its  President, Comrade Ayaba Wabba, in Abuja.

He  said the decision to embark on the mass protest was because all attempts to make the government toe the line of acceptable standards have failed.

Wabba said the increment would not only worsen the living conditions of Nigerians, who are already grappling with the pains of the present economic situation, but also aggravate restiveness in the country.

Wabba described the implementation of the tariff as an act of lawlessness, given the fact that there was a subsisting court order against it.

While warning that Nigerians would reject being made to pay for the inefficiency in the system, Wabba said it was unfortunate that despite the whopping N18.26 billion invested into the sector in the twilight of the past administration, there was nothing on ground to justify the spending.

He said: “A privatised sector that continues to parasite on government with insignificant benefit to Nigerians is at best a leech on our economy and should be interrogated.”

According to Wabba, during the protest, which will be carried out in all the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, all Distribution Companies offices will be picketed.

In order to ensure a hitch-free protest, Wabba said union members had been sufficiently mobilised nationwide.

He said the Abuja rally would start at 8 am at the Labour House located in the Central Business District.

From there, the protesters would move to the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission head office, also in Abuja.

According to him, areas to be visited would also include the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company and the National Assembly.

Wabba said: “This protest rally has become necessary after all effort 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.

“The reasons for this protest are obvious and include the following: The due process in the extant laws for such increment was not followed in consonance with section 76 of the Power Sector Reform Act, 20. There has been no significant improvement in service delivery.

“Moreover, the fact is that most consumers are not metered in accordance with the signed privatisation Memorandum of Understanding, MOU, of November 1, 2013, which stipulates that within 18 months gestation period, all consumers are to be metered.

“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.”

Wabba said the protest was a last resort as Labour had issued a communiqué on December 22, 2015 rejecting the tariff hike and demanding that pre-paid metres be made available free to all consumers.