By Peter Usman/:
The Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC has urge the Federal Government to quickly reverse the increase in electricity tariff or face industrial resistance by Nigerian workers.
The Labour in a statement issued and signed by its President said it is awful and indeed cruel for government to introduce yet another electricity tariff amidst the soaring inflation and poverty rates in the country.
NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, said while Nigerians were trying to embrace the warmth of the New Year, the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC in its ‘wisdom’ decided to slam the country with the cold hug of yet another astronomical increase in electricity tariff.
Wabba said, “NLC vehemently condemns this attempt to start Year 2021 for Nigerians on the grinding stone. It is even colder that this tariff increase was announced without recourse to the negotiation process that the government and Organized Labour in Nigeria signed up to about three months ago.
“The representatives of Organized Labour in the committees set up during negotiation with government to engage on issues in our electricity and petroleum sectors heard of this insensitive hike from the media like other Nigerians.
“This is indeed a stellar performance in negotiation in bad faith by the Federal Government. This is completely unacceptable to the working people of Nigeria”
NLC boss asserted that the hike also comes in the face of the renewed onslaught of COVID-19 where workers and citizens expend their meagre resources on healthcare both for preventive and therapeutic response to the renewed COVID-19 challenge.
“We really fear for the impact of this new increase on manufacturing in Nigeria. Certainly, the producers of “Made-in-Nigeria” goods and services will find it greatly difficult to cope with this new tariff.
“Before now, many manufacturing concerns and Small to Medium Enterprises were already reeling in great strain as a result of the negative growth occasioned by the first wave of the COVID pandemic in 2020.
“There is no gainsaying the fact that this tariff hike would sound the death knell for many manufacturing outfits in Nigeria as many of them would resort to either mass lay-off of workers and or direct importation of finished goods.
“Finally, we are bothered by the double speak in the NERC communique announcing this hike in tariff. In one breath, NERC denied any new increase in tariff.
“In another breath, it announced that electricity tariff would be adjusted from N2 per kilowatt/hour to N4 per kilowatt/hour – a 100% tariff increase.
“The statement in quick reversals also lumped consumers in Band D and E under the new tariff. This volte face is contrary to our agreement with government which excluded Band D and E from further increases in electricity tariff. This clearly paints a picture of deliberate mission by government to hoodwink and take Nigerians for a ride.
“Overall, this increase in electricity tariff apart from negating the agreement we reached with government in September 2020 will further imperil our local economy, lead to the loss of millions of jobs by Nigerian workers and trigger wider social discomfitures.
“In light of the heightened burden that this hike in electricity tariff imposes on Nigerian workers and people, we urge the Federal Government to quickly withdraw this uncanny New Year Gift or face an unprecedented industrial resistance by Nigerian workers. Nigerians have bled enough already. We will bleed no more!” he said.