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Tension Rises as Civil Society Coalition Plan to Picket Electricity Companies over Tariff Hike


Ahead Monday planned demonstration by the civil society coalition including the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), against the new electricity tariffs, tension is high that commercial activities will be shut down in the various states capital.

The action, according to NLC, is against the recent 45 percent increase in electricity tariff by the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission, across the country.

The NLC said that the mass action which is expected to hold in the 36 states and Abuja will see the Congress and their civil society allies picketing Electricity Distribution companies (DISCOs)

The union said, “our members have been sufficiently mobilised and are ready to go. If you are an electricity consumer and you are not happy with the bills electricity companies serve you every month, you are invited to join this protest rally.

“The Abuja rally will start at Labour House, Central Business District at 8.00am before moving to the NERC head office at Adamawa Plaza, Plot 1099, First Avenue, Off Shehu Shagari Way, Central Business District. From the NERC office, the rally will roll to the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company at Zone 4. The rally will mobilise from there to the National Assembly”

Meanwhile, electricity workers have kicked against the plan to picket DISCOs, and Generation Companies (GENCOs), arguing that the action is misdirected.

Speaking on the platform of the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE), the workers said while they opposed the hike and support action against it, such action should be targeted at the Federal Government and its agencies such as the Ministry of Power and NERC.

The union, in a statement by its General Secretary, Joe Ajaero, recalled that when NUEE was fighting the privatization of the assets of Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, many Nigerians misunderstood the electricity workers and were mischievously accused of trying to protect inefficiency and some other self-seeking allegations, despite their efforts at educating Nigerians on the impending evil.

“We believe that, as a responsible trade union whose members work in the Power Sector; and thus, are also affected by this mindless increase, we must state that the DISCOs and GENCOs are not the sole beneficiaries of that decision. If any organisation should bear the brunt of our attacks, it must be the Federal Government and its ministries and agencies within the sector, especially NERC and the Federal Ministry of Power.

“We believe that it is our civic responsibility and duty to educate those championing the picketing exercise to be properly directed on the targets of their picketing effort.

“Let it be clear that NUEE supports every effort to resist the increase in electricity tariff and other anti-people policies of the government but we will advise our compatriots to be target specific so that we may not be accused of fighting the wrong parties in this case. Few days ago, the Minister also counselled the National Assembly members that they cannot force the power companies not to increase tariff because these companies do not have the power to do so,” the NECC said.

Industry experts, however, have expressed concern that the call by the organized labour to shut down the DISCOs and GENCOs would impact negatively on the power sector and the nation’s economy.

But for the National Union of Textile Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria (NUTGTWN), it wants President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately review the power sector reform embarked upon by the previous government with a view to increasing public sector involvement.

General Secretary of the Union, Comrade Issa Aremu who made the call in a statement in Abuja, Sunday said the promise by the government to revive textile industries in the country will not be possible without improved power supply.

Aremu who said the union was fully in support of the planned picketing by labour and their civil society allies of all offices of the electricity distribution companies (DISCOS) nationwide including Abuja on Monday said the government should listen to suggestions of power sector unions on the issue.

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