House Berates NLC, TUC for Shunning Public Hearing on Electricity Tariff Hike

Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja

The leadership of the House of Representatives yesterday came down hard on the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) for shunning a public hearing on the recent electricity tariff hike.

Speaking at the special public hearing on the increase in electricity tariff, Hon. Ademorin Kuye said Nigerian workers were the most affected by the recent electricity tariff hike.

He lamented that the hearings was to talk about non-metering of houses as well as estimated billing, regretting that the unions that are supposed to represent Nigerians were absent.

In his submission, Hon. Victor Nwokolo said it was sad and disheartening to say that there was communication between the NLC and the committee, wondering why the leadership of the organised labour would travel to Geneva without sending a representative to represent the union at the public hearing to make their submissions known.

Nwokolo added: “We did not say they should not attend their international event, we said do your submissions and get someone to represent you. We strongly believe that the Secretariat of NLC and TUC are not under lock and key as we speak. Yet they were quick  to shut down national grid.

“The NLC replied our letter on May 31, 2024 saying they won’t be able to attend. The committee later wrote them on 6th of June 2024 requesting their submission, there was no reply.”

Also, Hon. Isiaka Ayokunle said it should be on record that the Civil Society Organisations (CSO) only had one representative at the hearing.

Responding, the Speaker of the House, Hon. Abbas Tajudeen said he expected the NLC would be the first to take action and attend the public hearing.

The Speaker, who was represented by his Deputy, Hon. Ben Kalu said the Parliament remains the people’s house, adding that if there are issues to ventilate, the Parliament remains the best place.

The National Assembly, he said, condemns the leadership of NLC for not attending the public hearing.

“I know NLC has always spoken out on national policy, but we are worried that they would be in Geneva rather than partner with the Parliament…I’m sure the NLC will correct itself as we partner with them on issues of Nigeria.

“I suggest you still ask the NLC to submit their memorandum to the House. NLC is invited again to send their memorandum on this issue,” he said.

Abbas noted that the recent decision by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to increase electricity tariffs had sparked widespread discontent and apprehension across the nation.

He added that the rationale provided for this tariff hike, as outlined by NERC, was to address the industry’s mounting debt and ensure the continued functioning of the power sector.

The Speaker noted that it was evident that this move had not been well-received by Nigerians, adding that the numerous voices, including organised labour and industry experts, have voiced their strong opposition to this decision.

He said: “The fears expressed by many are valid – that such a sharp increase in electricity tariffs will only exacerbate the economic hardships already faced by our people.

“There are genuine concerns that higher utility bills resulting from this tariff hike could have a ripple effect on operational costs for businesses, potentially leading to increased prices for goods and services.”

Abbas stressed that electricity was not just a commodity, but a lifeline for many households and businesses across the nation, saying any significant rise in tariff could have far-reaching consequences on the economy and the livelihoods of our people.

He said it was essential that they carefully assess all factors before making any decisions that might  affect the affordability and accessibility of electricity for the citizens.

Abbas added: “It is imperative that we engage in constructive dialogue to address these issues and ensure that any adjustments made are fair, transparent, and ultimately beneficial to all parties involved.

“This conversation is to help us make better laws, policies for the country. Anything you say here remains here. This committee is not going to be antagonistic.

“They are not here to run anybody down. They are here to carry out their job as allowed by Sections 88,89 of the Constitution of the federal Republic of Nigeria. Your opinion matters.”

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