The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) has restated its position on the proposed increase in electricity tariff announced recently by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), saying the hike does not take into consideration the plight of Nigerians who are already riddled with poverty, and hence the proposal is unacceptable.
The President of NLC, Ayuba Wabba, who spoke yesterday at a two-day Africa Social Partner Summit in Lagos, said the situation of the economy, which has brought hardship to both workers and employers, does not necessitate any increase in the electricity tariff at this time.
He said increasing the electricity tariff by as much as 78 per cent is not right even when the Discos and Gencos have not improved efficiencies in services, adding that many rich consumers were no more receiving supply from electricity distribution companies because of high tariff and inefficiencies.
According to him, “We have heard that they want to increase electricity tariff this year, in a time the economy is not doing well; when businesses are suffering from the issue of very high tariff. Our fear is that many businesses will further close down.
“The major reason why over 500 companies have closed down in Nigeria is because of high tariff, and many companies will close shop if the increase in tariff is not stop.”
Wabba said a media house told him that it pays N60 million monthly on electricity tariff, adding that if NERC goes ahead with the tariff hike, the company will not be able to pay and will consequently disengage workers.
He said the NLC would call a conference to make its position known to the government on the subject-matter of tariff increase.
The NLC had last July stated that consumers across the country would not comply with the payment of electricity bill should the NERC go ahead with the proposed increase in the tariff.
It also warned NERC not to succumb to the pressure mounted on the commission by power firms that had been calling for an increase in electricity tariff.
The House of Representatives Committee on Power had recently asked NERC to suspend the planned increase in electricity tariff.
The committee Chairman, Aliyu Magaji, said the upward review should be suspended pending proper consultations on the matter.
Also, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, had called for the suspension of the proposed electricity tariff hike, saying the increment should not be allowed until estimated billing is criminalised.
NERC recently said the review of electricity tariffs is subject to public consultation, as its Chairman, James Momoh, said the proposed tariff is only a review that it is mandated twice in a year.
On the N30,000 minimum wage, the NLC president said the labour would not be satisfied until every worker in Nigeria is paid.
“Until every state gets to appreciate the importance of the minimum wage, we would not rest. I will not be satisfied until workers in Nigeria, whether in public or private sector, benefit from it; because they have been at the receiving end,” he said.