Nigerians are indeed facing harsh economic hardship induced by government’s penchant to embark on policies that exert maximum suffering on the citizenry. The practice did not start today, but has been an entrenched system of governance for successive governments after the country gained independence from the British colonial masters. Judging from the number of times obnoxious and sadistic policies have been forced on Nigerians, which have attracted either feeble or no resistance from the masses, one may be tempted to jump into hasty conclusion that Nigerians are accustomed to hard life. However, this notion is far from the truth because Nigerians are resilient lots, who strive to eke out a decent living under any economic condition they operate.
Perhaps, the resilient nature of Nigerians may have informed government’s decision to always force bitter pills on the citizens, in the guise of formulating enduring economic policy, notwithstanding the inherent hardship. Often, the policies are enunciated without due consultation with relevant stakeholders for buy-in, and this style of leadership has always pitch the governed against the government.
A typical example is the recent 45 percent increase in electricity tariff by electricity distribution companies in the country without commensurate improvement in output, leading to Nigerians literally paying for darkness – services not supplied. The expectation was that the DISCOs would have embarked on aggressive metering of consumers before the commencement of the new electricity tariff, but this was done in the breach, which is tantamount to ripping-off Nigerians.
The outgone Chairman of Nigerian Electricity Regulation Commission, NERC, Dr. Sam Amadi, who unveiled the new tariff descended heavily on the recalcitrant DISCOs, hiding under estimated billing to rip-off customers. He urged every DISCO to meter all its customers, stressing that the metering policy will be strictly enforced.
Amadi had promised Nigerians that “there is zero tolerance for overbilling of customers. An unmetered customer who is disputing his estimated bill would not be expected to pay the disputed bill. He would pay his last undisputed bill as the contested bill go through the dispute resolution process. This is a departure from the old practice which prescribes that customers should first settle the bill while dispute resolution is in process. The objective of the new tariff is to enable prudent consumers to save money on electricity bill as they can now control their consumption and not pay monthly fixed charges.”
This covenant with Nigerians has been broken. When citizens face a situation like this, the organised labour should be the last hope to salvage the deplorable situation.
In this particular case, the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, did not render the desired help sought by the people, and electricity consumers continue to pay for services they are not enjoying.
Again, typical of the government, pump price of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, popularly known as fuel was increased last week to N145 per litre without due consultation with those that bear the brunt. The only belated plausible explanation received were series of tweets from the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, stating how government was incurring about N13.7 kobo as subsidy on each litre of petrol bought by Nigerians, as if government does not exist for the good of the citizens. From his calculation, the federal government would have had to cough up N16.4 billion every month to offset the subsidy claims of oil marketers had it not taken the decision to remove the subsidy on petrol.
We take the view that the NLC would have latched on this point as fulcrum for its demand for palliatives instead of the docile request for increase in the minimum wage of workers. This is because wage increment at the moment, with inflation hitting the roof top at 13.7 percent, will spell doom for the workers, the intended beneficiaries. More worrisome is the fact that many states in the federation are unable to pay the current monthly minimum wage of N18,0000 to their workers. The NLC should ask the federal government to use the money saved from the subsidy removal to improve the lot of the workers by providing basic infrastructures. Again, what is there in store for those in the informal sector, engaging in petty trading?
We urge the NLC to jettison unreasonable demands and develop a mechanism of weighing the workers’ real needs in order to have better bargaining power when negotiating workers’ welfare with a government that does not believe in consultation, inclusive governance and shared prosperity.


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