In a statement issued by President Comrade Joe Ajaero, the union advised the government to prioritize the well-being of the masses and abandon the proposed tariff hike for their collective safety.
By Denyefa Eniekenemi:
Yesterday, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC), and civil society organisations (CSOs) jointly expressed their rejection of the scheduled 40 percent increase in electricity tariff, set to take effect on July 1. They called upon the government to abandon the proposed hike.
The NLC criticized the planned increase as lacking sensitivity and compassion, while the TUC stated that it demonstrated a complete disregard for the suffering of the country’s citizens. The CSOs demanded that the government immediately halt the proposed tariff raise, labeling it as unfair and unjustifiable.
It is worth noting that the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), when announcing the tariff increase, justified it by citing the current exchange rate of N441/$ and an inflation rate of 16.97 percent, upon which the current Service Based Tariff (SBT) was based. However, with the naira’s value now exceeding N700 against the dollar and inflation at 22.45 percent, the NERC argued that a tariff increase is necessary to address the rising operational costs faced by electricity providers.
Leading the opposition against the planned tariff hike, the NLC expressed concerns about the potential escalation of school fees in tertiary institutions, including privately-owned ones, alongside other impending costs and tariffs. This, coupled with the current situation, could make life in Nigeria genuinely challenging, reminiscent of a Hobbesian existence. In a statement issued by President Comrade Joe Ajaero, the union advised the government to prioritize the well-being of the masses and abandon the proposed tariff hike for their collective safety.
The statement read: “The plan to increase electricity tariff by 40% by July 1 is both insensitive and callous and reflects an organised indifference to the well-being of consumers, especially, the poor masses.
“The massive increase is explained away as a response to the over 100 per cent increase in the pump price of premium motor spirit, otherwise known as petrol.
“Details reveal a movement in inflation from 16.9% to 22.41 (threatening to needle 30), and a shift in exchange rate from N441 to N750.
“We believe not even these figures are a justification for this reckless proposed tariff increase.
The issue of capacity to pay and quality of service delivery are not only germane but superior to any rationalisation by market logic.”
The NLC contended that there had been increases without notice in violation of statutes, saying “the service providers, in spite of sundry support, have not been able to meet the threshold of 5,000 megawatts.
“Coupled with this, there have been surreptitious increases without notice in violation of the statutes.
“The inherent risk in the new regime of tariff is that there is no control, implying that by August, consumers will pay new rates.
“The other risk is that by the time other product or service-rendering entities come up with their new prices or rates, the ordinary person would have been compacted into dust.
“We would want to advise apostles of market who have called NLC all sorts of names to check their conscience.
“The rate at which they are going is highly combative and combustible. With contemplation of payment of increased school fees in tertiary institutions and increases in privately-owned ones, in addition to other costs/tariffs on the way, life in Nigeria could truly be Hobbesian.
“The market economies, which the market fundamentalists seek to emulate, have in place socio-economic safeguards which we do not have.
“In light of this, our advice is that this proposed tariff hike should be shelved for our collective safety.”