By Bimbola Oyesola

Organised Labour has said the plan to shut down the offices of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) over increase in electricity tariff would take place nationwide today.

Nigerian trade unions have accused the power regulator of colluding with distribution companies to impose oppressive electricity tariff and the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) are  working together to enforce the nationwide picketting.

In a letter jointly signed by the NLC Acting General Secretary, Chris Uyot and TUC’s Acting Secretary General, Anka Hassan to the state councils, the centres said the action would hold simultaneously.

“The action will take place on Monday, 13th of May, 2024 nationwide  simultaneously. Therefore, the two labour centres are directed to work together to carry out this important action,” the letter read.

The Lagos State NLC chairperson, Funmi Sessi, confirmed the level of mobilisation in the state to Daily Sun.

“The picketing is going ahead as scheduled. In fact we have mobilised our members and we are ready to hit the road,” she said.

She revealed that the state has been  divided into two major locations based on convenience for members.

In a message to the members, the state secretariat said the take off time would be 6:30am.

“Please note that each location will be coordinated by the following SAC members assigned below: Lagos Island, Lekki, Mainland Location:  61, Odunlami Street, Lagos Island  to be led by state vice chairman, Gbadamosi a.k.a Kosewu.                                      

“The second location is Ikeja Axis: Block J, Plot 3 Otunba Jobi Fele, close to Gani Fawehimi’s Library around NECA office. People coming from Iyana Ipaja, Oshodi, Agege, Mushin, Badagry, Ojo, Amuwo Odofin, Festac area. This team will be led by state vice chairman, Olabisi Idowu,” the letter read.

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In a message to members last night, Sessi said: “Massive mobilisation against the  hike in electricity tariff begins as we come out tomorrow to tackle this illogical decision of the government.

“Picketing start at 6.45am. Mobilise your members to join this struggle which is worth doing.”

NLC on Thursday,  directed its state branches and affiliates to mobilise their members to commence picketing of the offices of NERC and DisCos nationwide from Monday, May 13.

In a warning letter jointly signed by NLC President Joe Ajaero and his TUC counterpart, Festus Osifo, the two labour centres demanded immediate cessation of the discriminatory segregation of electricity consumers into arbitrary bands.

They also demanded the restoration of the supremacy of the statutes governing the conduct of operators within the electricity industry.

The letter, dated May 3, 2024 and addressed to Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of NERC, urged the regulatory body to immediately reverse the electricity tariff hike or face resistance from the workers.

They also copied the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Minister of Labour and Employment, Minister of Power, and all the DISCOs.

The NERC’s decision, publicized at a press briefing on April 3, 2024, has escalated electricity costs for Band A customers to N225 per kilowatt-hour, a sharp rise from the former rate of ₦68/kWh.

This 240 per cent increase follows the government’s removal of electricity subsidies for Band A customers, who represent about 15 per cent of the nation’s 12.82 million power consumers. The government argues that this adjustment will save ₦1.5 trillion.

Despite the government’s assurance that Band A customers will enjoy up to 20 hours of power supply daily, the tariff hike has met with widespread criticism from various quarters, including the House of Representatives, organised labour, and the Nigerian Bar Association.

The House has even called for an immediate suspension of the new tariff implementation.