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FG insists on electricity tariff hike as Labour threatens showdown


The Federal Government on Sunday faulted the organised labour’s opposition to the electricity tariff hike and the removal of the subsidy in the sector.

The spokesperson for the Ministry of Power, Florence Eke, who disclosed this in an interview with The PUNCH in Abuja, said the Minister of Power, Adebayo Adelabu’s justification of the electricity tariff hike at the Senate public hearing on Monday last week was still valid.

She said the government was  “not toeing the path of trade unions’’ on the issue of electricity tariff.

According to her, the burden of the electricity subsidy was too much for the government to bear and it was not sustainable.

Eke stated this against the background of the two-week ultimatum issued by organised labour demanding the reversal of the increase in the electricity tariff.

But the Trade Union Congress on Sunday insisted on the two-week ultimatum it gave to the Federal Government to reverse the tariff.

Also, the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Joe Ajaero, faulted the tariff hike.

According to him, the government cannot fix tariffs in a sector that is already deregulated.

The Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission 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, representing about 240 per cent increase.

Subsidy on electricity was withdrawn completely from the tariff of customers in the Band A category, who constituted about 15 per cent of the total 12.82 million power consumers across the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.

Labour kicks

However, the House of Representatives, organised labour and the Nigerian Bar Association kicked against the hike in tariff payable by about 1.9 million consumers.

The House called on the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission 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 last Monday, the power minister explained that there would be a nationwide blackout in the next three months if the increase in electricity tariff was not implemented.

This came after the Senate Committee, chaired by Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, rejected the proposed 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 asserted

However, the NLC and TUC asked the NERC and the power sector operators to reverse the increase in electricity tariff within a week even as they expressed dissatisfaction with the epileptic power situation in the country, saying that it is affecting economic growth.

Speaking at the International Workers Day celebration in Abuja on May 1, the NLC President, Ajaero and his TUC counterpart, Festus Osifo, said, “It is unethical to force Nigerians to pay higher tariffs for non-existent electricity. Estimated billing is an extortion and daylight robbery against Nigerians

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