• Sunday, May 19, 2024
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Tinubu extends FEC meeting, as Labour grounds activities in power sector

Still on the importance of the Office of the Chief Economic Adviser to the President

President Bola Tinubu on Monday extended meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) to continue on Tuesday, on the backdrop of several outstanding memos listed for discussions.

The meeting which started at about 12 noon on Monday, had over 40 memos, listed for deliberation from various Ministries, according to  sources close to Cabinet office.

Idris Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture told State House Journalists that the meeting ” will continue tomorrow ( Tuesday), because they were “not able to complete  outstanding critical issues”.

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According to him  “FEC is continuing tomorrow because there are far reaching decisions which we couldn’t conclude today.”

The last  meeting of the Federal Executive Council held on the March 24, 2024.

 

Section 144 subsection 5 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, give powers to the ” executive council of the Federation”,  referring the body of Ministers of the Government of the Federation, or howsoever they may be  called, as established by the President.

The FEC is   “charged with such responsibilities for the functions of government as the President may direct”

The Constitution gives the President powers to constitute his Cabinet and call for the meeting of FEC, when ever it is necessary.

The Council being the highest policy formulating body of the Federal government, is made up of Ministers whose roles are to  also advice the President

The meeting came  on the heels of ongoing picketing of Power distribution Companies by Nigeria Labour Council NLC and the Trade Union Congress TUC.

BusinessDay gathered that the plans to shutdown offices of the electricity distributors nationwide, is to protest electricity tariff hike amid hardship in Nigeria, by the federal government, in the midst of current hardships

The organised labour prevented workers from having access to their office to work early Monday morning as they throng various offices of electricity distribution companies to protest the Band A tariff hike.

The organised labour is protesting the electricity tariff hike and removal of subsidy from the power sector by the federal government.

BusinessDay alao gathered that the implementation of the 2024 budget which was pushed to June, this year, as well as issues around power infrastructure are top on the agenda for deliberation.

They prevented workers from having access to their office to work early Monday morning as they throng various offices of electricity distribution companies to protest the Band A tariff hike.
With the picketing, the NLC shutdown  Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) the organised labour is also expected to shutdown of the Abuja headquarters of the agency, the Ministry of Power and state offices of power distribution companies.

 

As a result of the action, labour unions conducted a picketing exercise at the headquarters of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, the Transmission Company of Nigeria as well as the Ministry of Power all in Abuja.
Recall that the Federal Government announced tarriff increase especially for Band A customers, a development that attracted widespread criticisms both from individuals and the workforce.
Joe Ajaero, the NLC President who led the picketing exercise berated government officials for failing to consult with Labour stakeholders before announcing the increase.

 

He said Nigerian workers and people deserve access to constant and affordable electricity supply, adding that the workforce remains the worst hit by such increase.

He said, “On Wednesday, 3rd of April 2024, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission announced an upward review of electricity tariffs for electricity consumers in Band A across the country.

” The new rate that was announced for this band of electricity consumers was N225 per kilowatt hour. According to NERC, about 15 percent of Nigeria’s population are in Band A category of electricity consumers which are supposed to enjoy up to 20 hours of power supply daily”.

The  Labour leaders demanded for the immediate reversal  of the power sector privatisation and recovery of all public electricity assets sold by the federal government

 

The protesting workers were seen carrying placards with inscriptions ,’We are not generator Republic,’ IMF, World Bank, leave Nigeria Power Sector alone, “Let the Poor breathe. Give us affordable and constant light, among others.

 

Ajaero, while addressing newsmen said that the privatisation of the power sector was a ‘colossal failure’.

 

This protest is coming on the backdrop of announcements by the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC ), had recently announced hike in electricity tariff across the nation from N65/kwh to N225/Kwh.

Following the development, the organised labour rejected the increased in the electricity tariff and therefore called for its reversal.

According to Ajaero, “That is which are sold cheap to largely inexperienced, technically deficient and financially challenged private investors.

 

“As workers are hit hardest by the increase in electricity tariff. Unlike business people, wage earning workers cannot adjust their income when the cost of utilities are increased.

“The stagnancy in wage amist increases in electricity and refined petroleum products push workers over and beyond the limits of sanity and survival.

“Small and medium scale businesses which accommodates millions of workers in the informal economy is several affected by the increases in energy cost.

“This  have led to shutdown of business thus raising Nigeria’s unemployment market,”he said.

He said Nigeria workers have  rejected the recent increase in electricity tariff and the associated upgrading and downgrading of customers from one Band to another.

 

He therefore, called on government to respect the Sept. 2021 agreement with Labour  that reinforced in 2023 agreement that government must halt further increase in the tariff of public utilities until certain conditions are met.

He added that this include the review of the privatisation exercise, de- dollarization of gas supply to electricity generation, distribution of pre paid meters to all electricity consumers in Nigeria, among others.

The NLC president also noted that before the increase in electricity tariff, NERC would have called for a stakeholders meeting for proper consultation.

Reacting to the demands by Labour, Sanusi Garba, Chairman/ CEO of NERC, however commended Labour for its peaceful demonstration in respect of issues affecting the power sector.

According to him, we have taken input from your demands related to the affordability of the tariff issued by the commission, we have also listened to you and we have listened to the concerns of Nigerians.

“I want to assure you that we will make adequate representation on the policy side on the issue of affordability of tariffs.

“We also took note on your call for the diversification of  energy sources and I will like to say that the Zukeru 700 mega watt power plant is already on.”