Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, has said it would resist any attempt to raise electricity tariff, which it said was already prohibitive.
In a statement issued yesterday signed by Comrade Bobboi Bala Kaigama, President and Comrade Musa Lawal, Secretary-General, the TUC said any tariff hike would be an invitation to anarchy.
In the statement it said that it had “noted with dismay recent media reports on plans by electricity distribution companies, DISCOs, in the country to increase the tariff on electricity by an average of 49.4 per cent.”
“We understand that a number of proposals have already been submitted to the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, pursuant to this objective. In view of the present harsh economic realities in the land, it is our view that the proposed increase is wrong and lacks human face”, it said.
The union wondered why the masses should be at the receiving end of every wrong and retrogressive policy in the country.
“Why must they always pay for what the rich consume more of? What sense does it make for a man who earns less than N20,000 per month to be made to pay over N8,000 for electricity bill alone within the same month? Why should they pay so much for what they do not use regularly enough, with officers of the distribution companies rarely bothering to read the analogue metres? Why should these questionable issues that are spared no thought in other climes always take centre stage in Nigeria? Surely Nigerians deserve a much better deal.
The TUC claimed that it was aware that NERC was considering introducing measures that will facilitate reduction of the rate of the fixed charge on consumers.
“What has been happening all along is same with what is obtainable in the telecom sector. They either assign tones to subscribers or enroll them on plans that attract daily, weekly or monthly deductions. We say no to this nonsensical idea. The N750 charge is fundamentally fraudulent and unjust and must be out rightly abolished. Anyone canvassing its sustenance or any increase in tariff does a grave disservice to the nation.
It insisted that the implementation of the planned increase would amount to an invitation to anarchy.
“It is totally oppressive, indefensible and retrogressive. Little wonder that the NERC has been foot-dragging on the issue of making prepaid meters readily available to consumers of electricity because of the excessive billing they have been imposing on all and sundry. There is no gainsaying the fact that the present billing system is crazy, and any increase in tariff at this time is bound to make it even crazier.”
The NERC and DISCO would do well to shun anything that would attract the wrath of the masses. Rather, Nigerians expect them to earnestly adopt genuinely consumer-friendly policies. The fact that power supply is relatively improved within the last few months does not mean that the myriad of challenges affecting the sector are over.