Protesting Labour unions reject NERC boss plea, insist on tariff hike reversal (photos)

Protesters under the banner of Organised Labour rejected the Chairman of the Nigerian Electricity Commission, Sanusi Garba,’s call to go back to the “drawing board” on Monday.

Garba, speaking to demonstrators at the NERC offices in Abuja, stated that the commission would reconsider some of the demands made by organised labour.

“On behalf of the NERC, I want to welcome the comrades who have come here on a peaceful demonstration. We have taken note of all you have said, particularly about the affordability of tariffs. We have listened to you and the concerns of Nigerians.

“We also noted clearly what comrade Ajaero said about energy sources, and I would like to say that the new Zungeru power plant is already online, generating over 600 megawatts. we are also working hard to ramp up solar generation in such a way that tariff will start to come down.

“Comrade Ajaero also made remarks about banks sitting on the boards of distribution companies. The NERC had earlier given deadlines to all the banks to exit from the boards of distribution companies because we want proper investors on the boards of these companies.

“We have noted your concerns and we will go back to the drawing board.”

However, protesters began chanting, “No, No, reverse the hike, we demand total reversal of electricity tariff hike !!!.”

The NERC announced the hike in the electricity tariff for Band A customers at a press briefing in Abuja on April 3, revealing that those affected would pay N225 per kilowatt-hour, up from the previous rate of N68/kWh.

The hike represented a 240 per cent increase.

The development marked the removal of subsidy from the tariff of customers in the Band A category, who constituted about 15 per cent of the total 12.82 million power consumers across the country.

Based on the tariff hike, the Federal Government said it would save N1.5tn.

The government stated that the decision took effect on April 3, 2024, adding that Band A customers would enjoy up to 20 hours of power supply daily.

However, the House of Representatives, organised labour, the Nigerian Bar Association, Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, electricity consumers and civil society organisations, demanded a reversal of the hike to the subsidy era tariff.

The House called on the NERC to suspend forthwith the implementation of the new electricity tariff nationwide.

But justifying the increase during an investigative hearing held by the Senate Committee on Power, Minister of Power, Adebayo Adelabu, argued that there would be a nationwide blackout in the next three months if the increase in electricity tariff was not implemented.

He said this after the Senate Committee, chaired by Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, rejected the new tariff regime.

“The entire sector will be grounded if we don’t increase the tariff. With what we have now, in the next three months, the entire country will be in darkness if we don’t increase tariffs. The increment will catapult us to the next level. We are also Nigerians. We are also feeling the impact,’’ Adelabu declared.

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