• Monday, July 15, 2024
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Labour, civil society for showdown with DISCOs over electricity tariff


Organised labour is mobilising to fight Distribution Companies (DISCOs) over the new electricity tariff proposed to take effect across the country from Monday, February 1, 2016 (today).

Joining forces with the labour are civil society groups who are insisting that there is no justification for tariff increase as the country still wallows in darkness and inadequate prepaid metering. Labour added that the proposed tariff also smacks of illegality as there is a pending court injunction before Justice Muhammed Idris of the Federal High Court, in Lagos. It said case was between Toluwani Yemi-Adebiyi versus Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and others that no increment until determination of the substantive suit.

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) and the Electricity Consumer Protection Forum, rising from a meeting in Ikeja, Lagos on Friday, called on the Federal Government to jettison the new tariff in the interest of industrial peace in the power sector.

Ayuba Wabba, president of the NLC said that labour would mobilse workers and its civil society allies to picket all DISCOs should the government failed to heed their warning.  He described the 40 to 45 per cent planned tariff increase as exploitative and illegal and urged Nigerians to reject it.

“We reject the tariff increase base on the fact that due process was not followed according to the law. Organised labour and civil society were not consulted. There is also no significant improvement on power since it was privatised. The DISCOs promised to give Nigerians meters in 18 months but they failed. This is corruption and it is ripping Nigerians off their money. The increment negates the present biting and prevailing economic situation and will further impoverish the people,’’ Wabba said.

Bobboi Kaigama, TUC resident said that the NERC should not increase electricity tariff until there was a substantive improvement in electricity supply.

“If by February 1, the Federal Government implements the tariff policy, we will shut all DISCOs. There should be increase indicated on service delivery before new tariff,’’ Kaigama said.

Also, Adeola Samuel-Ilori, consumer protection forum coordinator said that the organisation had engaged distribution companies several times on the issue of estimated billing without result.

Samuel-Ilori said it was regrettable that estimated billing was passed by the National Assembly and it has become statutory.

He however said that if the DISCOs were able to meter all Nigerians within the 18 months gestation period, the problem of estimation billing would have been solved.

Yemi-Adebiyi, a legal representative in his remark said until Nigerian are provided with metres the 18 months’ time frame, any increase would be illegal and anybody that circumvents the court order would be jailed.