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More protests loom as NLC,TUC give DisCos, NERC 2 weeks to revert to old electricity tariff

By The Citizen
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Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have threatened to occupy the offices of the Electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOs), Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), and other relevant stakeholders in the industry if they fail to revert to the old electricity tariff within the two weeks window given to them.

The labour unions also reminded the DISCOs and other relevant agencies that gone are days when firms operating in Nigeria will be exploiting the masses without corresponding services to that regard.

To this end, the NLC and TUC supported by the CSOs staged a peaceful protest to the offices of NERC, Abuja DISCO, terminating at the National Assembly, Abuja, where they made a formal presentation of their request to the leadership of the National Assembly.

In their hundreds, the workers with placards with different inscriptions like 'Enforce MOU on electricity privatisation, increase electricity supply not tariff, we need light and not darkness' among other things, took their first match to the office of the Abuja DISCO, registering their displeasure with the over 45 percent increase in electricity tariff.

The workers led by NLC and TUC Presidents, Comrades Ayuba Wabba and Bobboi Kaigama as well as other officials of CSOs maintained that Nigerian workers have had enough of darkness with high tariff instead of light with affordable tariff.

In unanimous speech, the labour leaders vowed to continue pressing until the tariff is reversed, expressing disappointment over the role of the Minister of Power, Babatunde Fashola, in supporting the power firms in their many ways of exploitation of Nigerians. 'We demand a review of the privatisation of the government power firms.

We have discovered that the firms were bought by friends and cronies of the people in government who obviously are not competent to improve the electricity demand of Nigerians. We have made our position known in the past and we will continue pressing until our request is granted,' the labour leaders said.

Meanwhile, Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, who led other lawmakers to receive the workers at the National Assembly Complex, Abuja, promised that the National Assembly would act to ensure that the electricity tariff hike is resolved in the interest of the people. Saraki reiterated the commitment of the 8th National Assembly to collaborate with the executive arm of government in entrenching policies that are peoplefriendly.

He said the Senate believes in the struggle to ensure that the right thing is done and therefore, it will do everything within the shortest possible time to resolve the impasse between the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Electricity Distribution Companies (Discos) and electricity consumers in order to avert any further unrest.

Saraki while addressing the labour leaders and members of the civil society organisations, said: 'I welcome you to this place because it belongs to you. We are only tenants for four years. We are here to serve the Nigerian people. I want to assure you that the 8th National Assembly is for the people.

'Even before now, we have observed that this issue of tariff increase and some of the policies were not palatable. We have summoned the NERC even before now. We are with you, we will stand with you and ensure that no policy will in any way exist that is not palatable to the Nigerian people. 'Yes, we all want power, yes, we want improvement, but not at the detriment of the masses. There must be consultations because we are here at your instance. You cannot make laws and policies without the people. 'I want to assure you this afternoon that the 8th National Assembly will always stand for what will ensure the survival of the masses. We are not blind, we are not deaf, and we can see the problem. Give us time and we will engage with the Executive and ensure that the right thing is done.

'We will do the right thing and consult with you and we will agree where we have to agree and where we don't agree, we will find the best solution. At the end of the day, whatever we do must be in the interest of the people of Nigeria,' he said.

Also, Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, on Monday, appealed to Nigerians and the organised labour led by Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) to show more understanding, and accept the new electricity tariff.

He urged Nigerians to show understanding, explaining that only cost reflective tariff can develop the power sector and attract investment. According to him, the purpose of the meeting, is to provide avenue for company executives in the power sector to discuss and address power challenges in the country.

Fashola said that the entire nation is waiting for effective service delivery in power sector, adding that the ideal behind the meeting is to visit power installation companies to fashion a way out of the mess.

He explained that although Nigerians are disappointed over an increase in electricity tariff, however, the tariff ought to have been increased long before the new administration came on board. - Daily Times.