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Monday, May 20, 2024

Nationwide protests set to commence over electricity tariff hike

Organised labour mobilizes as unions demand reversal of electricity tariff increase and removal of subsidies, threatening nationwide shutdown

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Labour unions, including the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), are set to embark on nationwide protests starting Monday in response to the Federal Government’s electricity tariff hike and subsidy removal. National Treasurer of the NLC, Olatunji Ambali, and National Deputy President of the TUC, Tommy Etim, confirmed the planned demonstrations, stressing the need to revert to previous subsidy-era tariffs.

The protests are anticipated to disrupt operations at the Abuja headquarters of the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), the Ministry of Power, and state offices of power distribution companies. The tariff hike, announced by NERC on April 3, saw a 240 per cent increase in electricity tariffs for Band A customers, sparking widespread outcry and demands for reversal.

Despite the government’s claim that the tariff adjustment would save N1.5 trillion and ensure improved power supply, organised labour remains steadfast in its opposition. Labour leaders have criticized the move, citing its impact on economic growth and its unethical nature, particularly in the face of inadequate power supply across the country.

In response to mounting pressure, NERC recently announced a partial reduction in tariffs, attributing the adjustment to the appreciation of the naira in official foreign exchange markets. However, labour unions remain resolute in their demand for a complete reversal to previous subsidy-era tariffs.

Civil society groups have thrown their support behind the labour-led protests, emphasizing the need for policies that alleviate rather than exacerbate the suffering of Nigerians. Dr. Jackson Omenazu of the International Society for Social Justice and Human Rights and Mr. Auwalu Rafsanjani of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre have both pledged solidarity with the labour unions, underscoring the importance of collective action in addressing government policies detrimental to the populace.

As tensions escalate, the labour movement urges broad-based support from civil society, market women, students, and other stakeholders, emphasizing the collective nature of the struggle against adverse government policies. With the protests poised to commence, labour and civil society remain united in their demand for substantive action to address the grievances of the Nigerian people.

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