The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission and the members of the organised labour on Tuesday in Abuja disagreed over the rational for the recent increase in electricity tariff.
Officials of the Nigeria Labour Congress strongly opposed the tariff increase at a meeting organised by the NERC to explain the reasons for the tariff review.
The President, NLC, Mr. Abdulwaheed Umar, said it was worrisome that the commission had already increased the tariff before consulting the civil society.
“I am a living witness to what I will describe as an astronomical increase in tariff. Meanwhile, what worries us is that most times, the consultations for tariff review come after the did had been done. This ought not to be,” he said.
Umar argued that before any increase in tariff, there ought to be visible improvement in power supply by the electricity distribution companies.
“We can’t live in darkness and continue to pay electricity bills, not to talk of when the tariff has increased. As for the fixed charges, I see it as exploitation, because whether I get power or not, I must pay it,” the NLC president lamented.
Umar said the payment of the N750 fixed charge to the electricity distribution companies should be calculated based on the amount of power consumed by a customer.
“This will serve as a disincentive to the power investors and will make them sit up,” he said.
The atmosphere at the meeting became charged when the Deputy President of the NLC and Secretary General, Nigerian Union of Electricity Employees, Mr. Joe Ajaero, responded to remarks made by the Vice Chairman, NERC, Mr. Lawal Bello.
Bello, while defending the privatisation of the power sector, had stated that the “noise making” by some stakeholders in the sector against the exercise was unnecessary.
He argued that the government should be supported instead of being criticised over the privatisation exercise regardless of the poor performance of the sector at present.
According to him, Nigerians are known for not managing government-owned companies well, a development that led to the privatisation of many public institutions in the country.
But in a swift response, Ajaero described the vice chairman’s statements as stunning.