…says privatization of power must be reviewed
Chris Steven, Abuja
The leadership of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Tuesday rejected the newly introduced electricity tariff by the National Electricity Regulation Agency (NERC) describing it as worrisome and unacceptable.
NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba who briefed journalists in Abuja after an emergency meeting of the Central Working Committee (CWC) of the Labour Union which was held behind closed door for about five hours said the Congress would not accept any tariff that would make Nigerians pay more for the electricity they did not consume.
This was as the Labour union said that the abolition of fixed or estimated bill was long over due as it was making Nigerians to pay for the power that was not available adding that prepaid meters must be made available to every Nigerian before the Distribution Company (DiSCO) can talk of new tariff.
“Upward review of electricity tariff is rejected out rightly. Prepaid meters must be made available while estimated bill should be stopped. The whole privatization of NEPA should be reviewed otherwise the labour would mobilise and do the needful.” He said
He argued that the privatization of the power sector has failed to deliver on the mandate for which it was privatized, calling on the federal government to review the process of the privatisation.
Comrade Wabba said that Labour was prepared to mobilise against the new tariff adding that it would leave no stone unturned to ensure that Nigerians are not made to pay for what they did not consume.
His words: The issue of other charges outside consumption charges is illegal. The removal of fixed charges is long over due. But increasing the charges when the power is not stable is not acceptable.
Lack of meters is inefficiency because the reason for privatization has not been met and it has not been delivered on its mandate. Nigerians have been deceived. Our resources have been used for privatization and they were given bail out. I have seen the template, they want to increase tariff every year.”
Speaking on the calls for the removal of fuel subsidy, the NLC President maintained that Nigeria should not continue to import petroleum products arguing that the federal government should ensure that the nation’s refineries were working so that crude oil can be refined locally.
Comrade Wabba said the federal government should refer to the submission made to it in 2013 on the way out of the subsidy regime and corruption in the petroleum sector.
“We should not continue to import product for domestic use. All OPEC countries are also refining petroleum for domestic use. The continuous importation of petroleum products has not taken us anywhere.” He said
“What we are demanding for which is clear is that we should benefit from the falling price of crude oil but because we are an import dependent nation we are not benefitting. Why must we continue to import and have subsidy in place? If we are not importing, by now we should be paying lower. We remain consistent on those positions.” Comrade Wabba added
He said the CWC also discussed the argument of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) to reduce the N18000 National minimum wage.
According to him, the Governors do not have the right to tinker with the workers’ salary as it can only be done through the National Assembly as it is part of the Nigerian laws adding that the Labour would mobilise against all state governments that are owning workers’ salary arrears.
The National Minimum wage, he said, was long due for review adding that the Labour would make presentation to the appropriate authorities for the review of the minimum wage which according to him ought to be done every five years.
“CWC looked at the issue of the minimum wage which they want to reduce and also that workers are not paid as and when due. The governors do not have the power to touch or reduce the minimum wage. It is due for review.
States owning arrears will be vigorously engaged and workers in those state should be ready for engagement ” he said