A group of activists under the aegis of the Democratic Socialist Movement and the Campaign for Democratic and Workers Right (CDWR)have impressed on the Federal Government the need to find a lasting solution to the lingering crisis in the nation’s power sector.
Speaking at a symposium in Lagos, one of the panelists, Barrister Toluwani Adebiyi, the counsel who challenged the 45 per cent increase in electricity tariff at the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, and subsequently won a landmark judgment that nullified the tariff hike, said there was need to find a permanent and practical way forward to the ills bedeviling the power sector.
It would be recalled that Justice Mohammed Idris, had delivered judgment in a suit filed by Adebiyi, challenging the increment, described NERC’s action as irrational, irregular and illegal.
The court, while relying on Sections 31, 32 and 76 of the Electricity Power Sector Reform Act (EPSRA) 2005, in deciding the substantive suit, held that, “NERC acted outside the powers conferred on it by the Act and failed to follow the prescribed procedure.
The court was also of the view that “NERC has not shown that it acted in due obedience to the prescribed procedures and that there is no evidence that NERC complied with Section 76(6)(7) and (9) of the EPSRA Act.
Consequently, the court held that,” the tariff increase from July 1, 2015 was done in breach of the ‘status quo’ order”, adding that “NERC’s action, was therefore, clearly hasty, reckless and irresponsible.”
In view of these, the court while invoking its disciplinary jurisdiction, ordered that “the increment in electricity tariff which took effect after the institution of this action and while a restraining order is subsisting is hereby declared illegal and same is hereby set aside.
Echoing similar sentiments, AJ Dagga Tolar, a member of the DSM and Chairman of the NUT’s Ajeromi-Ifelodun branch, emphasised the need for a political action and organisation of the people to complement efforts of litigation.
He contended that the position of DISCOs that they are not making profit is false as the DISCOs defraud both government and Nigerians, while still paying little to 80% of their workers who are employed on casual basis in violation of labour laws.
The NUT boss noted that the roadmaps of successive governments have failed because it is built on neo-liberal policies like privatisation. Therefore, the power sector should be taken under public democratic control and management.
Comrade Chinedu Bosah, the National Secretary of SPN and the publicity secretary of CDWR, in his remarks, enjoined community groups to carry joint actions, especially in order to prepare for organised interventions.