By Bassey Udo
Organized labour on Friday reiterated its determination not to abandon its commitment to ensuring the permanent freezing of electricity tariffs hike in the country.
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) President, Ayuba Wabba, said there was the need to restate its position on the issue amid a swirl of speculations in the media that the Federal Government planned to increase electricity tariff by over 100 percent from January 2022.
Wabba said reports about the planned hike was attributed to the Special Adviser to the President on Infrastructure at a stakeholders’ engagement of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) in Lagos on Friday, September 17, 2021.
The NLC President said although the report has since been refuted by the Special Adviser and Secretary of the FGN-Labour Committee on Electricity Tariff, it was necessary for Labour to remind the government about its agreement on the issue.
He said the concern of Labour on the report revolved around the plan by the Federal Government to remove the N30billion subsidy in electricity generation and distribution by January 2022.
The Labour leader said the existence or absence of subsidy in the electricity sector has always been one of the contentious issues the Federal Government-Labour Committee on Electricity Tariff was mandated to resolve.
Also, he said one of the agreements between Labour and the Federal Government on September 28, 2020, included freezing further increases in electricity tariff until the Committee concluded its work and its report submitted and adopted by the government.
The Committee constituted in the wake of the hike in electricity and petrol prices in September 2020, was led by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, and the President of NLC, Ayuba Wabba, and his counterpart in the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Quadri Olaleye.
Wabba remind the government that the agreement in September last year with Labour to freeze electricity tariff increase remains sacrosanct to Congress and would not admit flouting by any form of subterfuge.
“Despite the suppositions, fibs and fabrications, possible prevarications, Congress is inclined to dismiss the probable increase in electricity tariff as a mere conjecture.
“We would, however, be mindful to carefully track the various rumours, decoys and perhaps, arrant mischief concerning the management of electricity tariff.
“Accordingly, Congress would indeed keep a monitoring tab on the work of the Committee. Congress urges the Committee to hasten its work and present a report to the Principals in the shortest time,” Wabba said.
Reaffirming Labour’s notice to the Federal Government issued on August 30, 2021 that it remained opposed to any tariffs increase, Wabba warned that “should the government make true the swirling speculations by approving an increase in electricity tariff, Organized Labour would be left with no option than to deploy the industrial mechanisms granted in our laws for the defence of workers’ rights.”