A Press Release

While Nigerians were trying to embrace the warmth of the New
Year, the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) in its
‘wisdom’ decided to slam the country with the cold hug of yet
another astronomical increase in electricity tariff. This increase
would be the umpteenth time in a space of less than one year.

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) vehemently condemns this
attempt to start Year 2021 for Nigerians on the grinding stone. It is
even colder that this tariff increase was announced without
recourse to the negotiation process that the government and
Organized Labour in Nigeria signed up to about three months ago.
The representatives of Organized Labour in the committees set up
during negotiation with government to engage on issues in our
electricity and petroleum sectors heard of this insensitive hike from
the media like other Nigerians. This is indeed a stellar performance
in negotiation in bad faith by the Federal Government. This is
completely unacceptable to the working people of Nigeria.

It is very awful and indeed cruel for government to introduce yet
another killer electricity tariff amidst the soaring inflation and
poverty rates in the country. This hike also comes in the face of the
renewed onslaught of COVID-19 where workers and citizens
expend their meagre resources on healthcare both for preventive
and therapeutic response to the renewed COVID-19 challenge.

We really fear for the impact of this new increase on
manufacturing in Nigeria. Certainly, the producers of “Made-in-
Nigeria” goods and services will find it greatly difficult to cope with
this new tariff. Before now, many manufacturing concerns and
Small to Medium Enterprises were already reeling in great strain as
a result of the negative growth occasioned by the first wave of the
COVID pandemic in 2020. There is no gainsaying the fact that this
tariff hike would sound the death knell for many manufacturing
outfits in Nigeria as many of them would resort to either mass lay-
off of workers and or direct importation of finished goods.

Finally, we are bothered by the double speak in the NERC
communique announcing this hike in tariff. In one breath, NERC
denied any new increase in tariff. In another breath, it announced
that electricity tariff would be adjusted from N2 per kilowatt/hour
to N4 per kilowatt/hour – a 100% tariff increase. The statement in
quick reversals also lumped consumers in Band D and E under the
new tariff. This volte face is contrary to our agreement with
government which excluded Band D and E from further increases
in electricity tariff. This clearly paints a picture of deliberate mission
by government to hoodwink and take Nigerians for a ride.

Overall, this increase in electricity tariff apart from negating the
agreement we reached with government in September 2020 will
further imperil our local economy, lead to the loss of millions of jobs
by Nigerian workers and trigger wider social discomfitures.
In light of the heightened burden that this hike in electricity tariff
imposes on Nigerian workers and people, we urge the Federal
Government to quickly withdraw this uncanny New Year Gift or
face an unprecedented industrial resistance by Nigerian workers.
Nigerians have bled enough already. We will bleed no more!

Comrade Ayuba Wabba, mni