Labour leads nationwide protests today against electricity tariff hike

By The Citizen

The organised labour will today rally electricity consumers in the country in a nationwide protest against the hike in electricity tariff recently announced by the National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and civil society in a release stated: 'We the members of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Trade Union Congress, Civil Society allies and electricity consumers across the country will protest the 45 per cent increase in the tariff of electricity as announced by the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission on Monday, February 8, 2016. 'It is a nation-wide protest, meaning that the 36 states of the Federation including Abuja will be involved in this action.

'Our members have been sufficiently mobilized and are ready to go,' the unions stated, just as the Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED) on Sunday in Kano, appealed to the Organised Labour to shelve its planned protest over electricity tariffs increase on Monday. Also, a lawyer and rights activist, Toluwani Yemi Adebiyi, has slammed contempt proceedings on the Chairman of NERC and the Chief Executive Officers(CEOs) of all Electricity Distribution Companies across the country over the implementation of the new electricity tariff despite a subsisting court order halting same.

A Federal High Court in Lagos had on May 28, 2015, directed NERC to suspend all actions relating to any increment in electricity tariff pending the hearing and final determination of a suit filed by the lawyer on the issue. However, despite the subsisting court's order, NERC in conjunction with the Electricity Distribution Companies commence the implementation of the new electricity tariff on February 1, 2016.

Already, copies of Form 48 which is a notice of consequence of disobedience of court's order have been served on the alleged contemnors. The application is expected to be heard on Thursday before Justice Mohammed Idris.

A statement issued by the Executive Director, Research and Advocacy of ANED, Mr Sunday Oduntan, urged the unions to support the power sector operators to improve electricity supply in the country.

The statement urged Nigerians to support the Federal Government and the power sector operators to ensure the sustenance of the sector. It said that Nigeria was witnessing an all-time high 5,075 megawatts of electricity for the first time in the history of the nation's power sector.

'This is a demonstration that the sector has the capacity to meet the country's power needs. 'Power is a major requirement in the drive to grow the nation's economy and improve quality of life. 'We believe that this is only the beginning and that we can accomplish much more improvement in the sector, if all the stakeholders work together in partnership.'

Meanwhile, the NLC has warned the officers and men of the Nigeria Police Force to desist from using arms against workers during protest.

The congress said the shooting of a Medical Doctor by an armed police man during a peaceful protest by members of the Nigeria Medical Association in Owerri represented a big minus for the police force that claimed credit for reform on the one hand, and a rising degree of intolerance for alternative view point by the government of Owelle Rochas Okorocha. - Daily Times.