The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has threatened industrial resistance following the increase in electricity tariffs by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).
The Congress, in a statement released late on Tuesday night and signed by the President, Ayuba Wabba, said the Federal Government should reverse the increase immediately or face an “unprecedented industrial resistance by Nigerian workers.”
They condemned the action of the Federal Government noting that the new increase will affect manufactures and producers of “Made-in-Nigeria” goods and services who will find it greatly difficult to cope.
“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.
“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,” Wabba said in the statement.
The increase in electricity tariff was announced on Wednesday following an adjustment of tariff by the NERC.
The approval was given in a Multi-Year Tariff Order (MYTO) signed by the new NERC Chairman, Sanusi Garba, and obtained by Channels Television on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, in an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today denied the increase. He noted that what was done was to adjust certain bands and to ensure that certain persons who are supposed to be on some bands are not wrongly put on some other bands.
See NLC’s full statement below…
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. This increase would be the umpteenth time in a space of less than one year.
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) vehemently condemns this attempt to start the 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 the 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.
It is very awful and indeed cruel for government to introduce yet another killer electricity tariff amidst the soaring inflation and poverty rates in the country. This 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 the 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 doublespeak 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 the government which excluded Band D and E from further increases in electricity tariff. This clearly paints a picture of the deliberate mission by the government to hoodwink and take Nigerians for a ride.
Overall, this increase in electricity tariff apart from negating the agreement we reached with the 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!
Comrade Ayuba Wabba