Picketing: Labour Demands Complete Reversal of Power Sector Privatisation

May 13, 2024

The Organised Labour has demanded complete reversal of the power sector privatisation and recovery of all public electricity assets sold.

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) made the demands while picketing the headquarters of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) over the hike in electricity tariff on Monday in Abuja.

The protesting workers carried placards with inscriptions such as ’We are not generator Republic,’ ‘IMF, World Bank, leave Nigeria Power Sector alone’, ‘Let the poor breathe’ and ‘Give us affordable and constant light’, among others.

Joe Ajaero, NLC president while addressing newsmen said that the privatisation of the power sector was a ‘colossal failure’.

NERC had recently announced a hike in electricity tariff across the nation from N65/kwh to N225/Kwh.

The organised labour had rejected the increase in the electricity tariff and, therefore, called for a reversal.

According to him, Organised Labour in Nigeria demanded a complete reversal of the power sector privatisation and recovery of all public electricity assets.

“That is they are sold cheaply to largely inexperienced, technically deficient and financially challenged private investors.

“As workers are hit hardest by the increase in electricity tariff. Unlike business people, wage-earning workers cannot adjust their income when the cost of utilities is increased.

“The stagnancy in wages amidst increases in electricity and refined petroleum products push workers over and beyond the limits of sanity and survival.

“Small and medium scale businesses which accommodate millions of workers in the informal economy are severely affected by the increases in energy cost.

“This has led to the shutdown of business thus blooming Nigeria’s unemployment market,” he said.

Labour, therefore, said that Nigeria workers rejected the recent increase in electricity tariff and the associated upgrading and downgrading of customers from one band to another.

Ajaero further called on the government to respect the Sept. 2021 agreement with Labour that reinforced the 2023 agreement that government must halt further increase in the tariff of public utilities until certain conditions were met.

He said that this included the review of the privatisation exercise, dedollarization of gas supply to electricity generation, and distribution of pre-paid meters to all electricity consumers in Nigeria, among others.

The NLC president also noted that before the increase in electricity tariff, NERC would have called for a stakeholder meeting for proper consultation.

Sanusi Garba, Chairman of NERC, commended Labour for its peaceful demonstration in respect of issues affecting the power sector.

“We have taken input from your demands related to the affordability of the tariff issued by the commission, we have also listened to you and we have listened to the concerns of Nigerians.

“I want to assure you that we will make adequate representation on the policy side on the issue of affordability of tariffs.

“We also took note of your call for the diversification of energy sources and I would like to say that the Zukeru 700 mega-watt power plant is already on,” he said.

The organised labour also went to the Ministry of Power and Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN).

Source: NAN