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Monday, 8 February 2016

NLC, TUC protest against high electricity tariff across the country (PHOTOS)

Nigerian electricity consumers marshalled by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) on Monday staged protest against the hike in electricity tariff across the country.
In December, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) had announced the upward review of electricity tariff and the abolishment of fixed charges in the country.
It had said that the new tariff regime would kick in on February 1.
“For instance, residential customer classification (R2) in Abuja Electricity Distribution Company will no longer pay N702 fixed charge every month. Their energy charge will increase by N9.60,” the commission had said.
“Also, residential customers (R2 customers) in Eko and Ikeja electricity distribution areas will no longer pay N750 fixed charges. They will be getting N10 and N8 increase respectively in their energy charges. Similarly, the burden of N800 and N750 fixed charges would be lifted off the shoulders of Kaduna and Benin electricity consumers. These consumers will see an increase of N11.05 and N9.26 respectively in their energy charges‎.”
However, labour kicked against the increase, threatening a showdown with the federal government.
On Monday, Ayuba Wabba, NLC president, who described the new tariff regime as “outrageous”, led protesters from Central Business District in Abuja, headquarters of the congress is, to NERC head office around Shehu Shagari Way.
Addressing the people, Wabba said labour would not rest in its effort to prevent Nigerians from paying for “darkness”.
“From N14 per unit to N28 or N26. This increase is outrageous. When it subsists this time around, be sure that it will continue and the exploiters will continue to exploit us,” he said.
“This is the message that we are taking to all these agencies. We are also going to the national assembly because they are the true representatives of the people. They feel our pulse and they represent our various constituencies and therefore they must stop all these by making laws that will actually protect the people.
“Law should be made to protect the people and not encourage exploitation.
“The increase is going to affect manufacturers, medium and small scale enterprises and even consumers. Every consumer must be provided with meter because people should be able to pay for what they consume and not to pay for darkness‎.”
In Calabar, capital of Cross River state, the NLC locked out workers of the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company.
John Ushie, state chairman of the NLC, said despite the epileptic power supply in the state and country, the DISCOs had continued to bill the consumers on estimation, forcing them to pay for what they could not account for.
In Enugu, security personnel prevented the strike from holding, as they blocked the various entrances to offices of the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC) across the state.
Viginus Nwobodo, chairman of the NLC in Enugu, lamented the action of the team comprising the police, army and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).
In Kaduna, the protesters locked up the head office of Kaduna electric, which distributes power to Kaduna, Kebbi, Zamfara and Sokoto states.
The protesters, who were joined by members of civil society organisations, barred workers from the company’s premises.
Adamu Ango, chairman of the NLC in the state, described the tariff increase as “inhumane”, saying there must be improvement in power supply before increase in tariff.
“We say no to increase in electricity tariff, it is inhuman and must be reversed because it is counter-productive,” he said.
Issa Aremu, of textile workers union also condemned the hike in tariff and called on the federal government to adopt the report of the 2014 national conference on power sector.
The protest was peaceful as security agents were deployed to ensure order.
In Imo, members of the NLC and the TUC converged on Owerri, the state capital, and picketed office of the electricity distribution company, along Royce Rad in Owerri.
Austin Chilakpu, the state chairman of the NLC, led the protest.
In Osun state, although the turnout was low, the labour unions stormed the head office of the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company in Osogbo, capital of the state.
In Lagos, the protesters marched through streets in Ikeja to the head office of Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company (IKEDC), adjacent the secretariat on Obafemi Awolowo way in Alausa.
The protesters paralysed activities in the area, before leaving a few hours later.
Amaechi Asugwuni, chairman of the National Union of Civil Engineering Construction, Furniture and Wood Workers, described the increase as a violation of a court ruling, which ordered that there should be no implementation of the new tariff until the case in court is resolved.
“The court decision should be binding on everybody. The minister of labour is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and he is supposed to respect the rule of law,” Asugwuni said.



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