The Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Trade Union Congress, TUC, and Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, yesterday shutdown business activities across the nation. In Abuja, the Labour unions threatened to occupy the offices of Electricity Distribution Companies, DISCOs, Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, if they failed to revert to the old electricity tariff within the two weeks window given to them.
The unions across the country also reminded DISCOs and other relevant agencies that gone were those days when firms operating in Nigeria would exploit the masses without corresponding services to them in that regard.
Our correspondent in Abuja reported that the protesters staged the protest to the offices of NERC and Abuja DISCO, ending the procession at the National Assembly where they made a formal presentation of their request to the leadership.
In their hundreds, the workers with placards with inscriptions such as ‘Enforce MOU on electricity privatisation’, ‘increase electricity supply not tariff’, ‘we need light and not darkness’, among others, took their first match to the office of the Abuja DISCO, where they registered their displeasure over the 45 percent increase in electricity tariff.
The workers led by NLC and TUC Presidents, Comrades Ayuba Wabba and Bobboi Kaigama, respectively, with officials of CSOs, maintained that the Nigerian workers have had enough of darkness with high tariff instead of light with affordable tariff.
In a unanimous speech, the labour leaders vowed to continue pressing on, until the tariff is reversed, expressing disappointment over the role of the Minister of Power, Babatunde Fashola in supporting the power firms in their schemes at exploiting 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 on, until our request is granted,” the labour leaders said.
NASS will act in the interest of the masses, Says Saraki
Meanwhile, the Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, has pledged that the National Assembly would act to ensure that the electricity tariff hike is resolved in the interest of the people.
Addressing the rally comprising of the Nigeria Labour Congress,, NLC, Trade Union Congress, TUC, Civil Society Organizations, CSOs and other electricity consumers who besieged the National Assembly complex, Abuja to protest the recent increment in electricity charges across the country, Saraki reiterated the commitment of the 8th National Assembly to collaborate with the Executive arm of government in entrenching policies that are people-friendly.
He said that 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 organizations, 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.
“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.
In their separate remarks, the President of NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba and his TUC counterpart, Comrade Bobboi Kaigama, argued that the labour unions resorted to protest, having exhausted other legitimate dispute resolution frameworks and dialogue to stop the NERC and Discos from increasing the electricity tariff.
The labour leaders however urged the National Assembly to rescue the Nigerian consumers from what they described as “extortion and over-billing of consumers” who are not metered in accordance with the signed privatization Memorandum of Understanding, MoU that provides that all electricity consumers be metered
Kano disregard KEDCO plea
Against all appeals and plea by KEDCO, the Nigerian Labour Congress, NLc yesterday picketed the Kano Electricity Distribution Company, KEDCO against the 45 percent electricity tariff increment.
The protesters stormed the headquarters of the electricity company located along Post Office road at about 7am.
The NLC led members of Trade Union Congress, TUC, students’ union and Civil Society Organizations to picket the company.
However, few minutes after the arrival of workers to KEDCO head office for the picketing, hundreds of armed policemen were deployed to the area to maintain law and order.
It will be recall that KEDCO Sunday begged the NLC to shelve the proposed protest.
See more reactions on page 8