Labour Asks NERC to Reverse Power Sector Privatisation

Comrade Joe Ajairo, NLC President

The Organised labour of Nigeria comprising Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) have demanded a complete reversal of the power sector privatisation and the recovery of all public assets sold amid protests against the recent hike in electricity tariffs.

It will be recalled that there has been public outcry that the privatisation process was not favourable to Nigerians. Instead it has worsened the country’s power sector after it has been unbundled with the belief that cronies of former administrations without knowledge of the sector were beneficiaries of the process.

The labour unions while picketing the head quarters of Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) in Abuja, displaying placards with poignant messages condemning failures of privatisation process and its adverse impact of tariff hikes on Nigerians.

Joe Ajairo, NLC President described the power sector privatisation as a colossal failure emphasisng the detrimental effects it has had on both workers and businesses across Nigeria.

According to the NLC President, the disproportionate placed on wage-earning workers who lack the flexibility to adjust their incomes in response to rising electricity bills.

Ajairo underscored the cascading effect of increased energy costs on small and medium-scaled enterprises, leading to shutdowns and exacerbating Nigeria’s employment crisis.

He stated further that the demands of organised labour, calling for the reversal of recent tariff hikes and urging the government to uphold agreements reached with the unions to further halt tariffs increase until certain conditions are met.

Some of the conditions includes: comprehensive review of the privatisation process, dollarisation of gas supply to electricity generation companies and distribution of pre-paid meters to all electricity consumers.

There has to be meaningful stakeholders’ engagement. Ajairo was of the view that NERC for its failure to convene consultations before implementing tariffs increase. The NLC Boss added that the importance of dialogue and collaboration in addressing issues affecting the power sector, calling for greater transparency and accountability from regulatory bodies.

Reacting to the union protests, Sanusi Garba, Chairman of NERC, acknowledged concerns raised by the unions and assured them that the Commission will address the issues.

Sanusi promised to represent labour’s interest in policy discussions and highlighted ongoing efforts to diversify energy sources, citing the development of the Zukeru 700-megawatts power plant as a significant step forward.

However, the unions demonstrations extended beyond NERC’s head quarters with visit to the Ministry of Power and Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) underscoring collective determination to hold government agencies accountable for addressing the challenges facing the power sector.

Some demonstrators were also seen with placards at Ikeja Electricity office in Lagos and other DisCos offices in Nigeria.

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