The proposed hike in Electricity tariff nation-wide by the federal government through the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) is one of the most inhuman and insensitive action by the government against the citizenry of this nation. It may be bereft of the right wisdom and of course the needed clarity of thought that make for better societies in periods of crisis.

The hike which is scheduled to come into effect on April 1,or any other date without improvement in generating, transmission and distribution capacity up to 10,000 megawatts is completely unacceptable to us in the United Labour Congress of Nigeria (ULC). Nigerian workers did not accept it when it was proposed earlier and this has not changed especially as the nation and indeed Nigeria faces the very existential threat of the COVID-19 outbreak. Periods of outbreaks do not require further hardship but palliatives to cushion the people from the fears and difficulties that would follow.

Congress had thought that it would have been more sensitive and responsive to have called off NERC; which is beginning to look like a Tormentor-in-chief of the Nigerian people from the wrong headed policy of increasing the price of Electricity on realising not just the resistance of the citizenry and majority of the stakeholders but also the new challenges confronting the Nigerian masses and companies who are the major consumers of electricity in Nigeria. COVID-19 is the new reality and its consequences are dire and real.

When nothing much has been done to alleviate the sufferings of the people at this time and the handling of the global pandemic less than normal, we should not be seen pursuing actions that would further emasculate the people. Nigerians expect that they be provided with greater comfort and succour to protect them from the worries and ultimate affliction which the outbreak has become rather than this Electricity tariff hike which will definitely make life more difficult for majority of the citizenry. This is not a strange expectation from the people but what is strange is that NERC seem to have decided to act on the converse.

What we have witnessed all over the world are robust and aggressive arrangements to protect the citizenry from this Virus. New Hospitals have been built in Days creating more bed spaces; new housing made available to accommodate the homeless; Cash transfers positioned for the citizenry while access to Food and other basic guarantees are provided. These are actions that resonate and show serious connection with the people thus deeper commitment to the welfare of the people. NERC is however engineering a reverse here. Afflicting the people more with a hike in electricity tariff is the exact opposite of what should be done right now.

This is most unfortunate and we consider this a dangerous sign that NERC is not for the people but for some few individuals and corporate organisations who have remained impervious to the cries and wailings of the citizens of this nation. The supervisors of NERC ought to have prevailed on them to have issued counter-directives to all the DISCOs on or before today and the fact that this has not gone forte as we had expected means that the growing belief amongst the citizenry that there is a gang-up against them may just have certain elements of truth.
It is indeed a shame that the NERC would want to hide under this time of global lockdown, anxiety and mourning to foist on the people greater suffering instead of alleviating them which is the essence of governance all over the world. It is unheard off anywhere that institutions hide under this kind of cover to inflict pain on the people. That is unacceptable and will not go unchallenged.

We at the Congress suggest that we should have more of a Tariff regime that is Service reflective driven by greater moral responsibility to the welfare of the people and nation rather than pandering to the whims and caprices of Corporate organizations.

The United Labour Congress of Nigeria (ULC) wants to warn that if nothing is done by NERC to stop following this very unacceptable path and immediately cancel the implementation of this less than honourable hike in Electricity tariff; we would be forced to take action to protect Nigerians and Nigerian workers immediately after this present Lockdown in the next 14 days. This therefore should serve as a notice to the government which has refused to stop NERC which it supervises from carrying out an obvious cowardly action which seeks to kick citizens that are already suffering further into the dusts.

We believe that if the NERC cannot show enough sensitivity to the plight of the citizenry at this time then, as representatives of the workers and citizens, we would be forced to also rise to the occasion with measured and compelling response that would dissuade them from pursuing this dangerous path. This is the time for sober reflection and we urge all institutions of government to act in the best interests of the people as the ultimate aim of governance is the protection of the people – nothing else! NERC must be supportive of the people!

Comrade Joe Ajaero
(President – ULC)

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