Abuja – The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) said on Monday that it would not relent in its agitation for a reverse of the increase in electricity tariff until government listened and acted.
The Chairman of NLC, Sokoto state chapter, Mr Aminu Muhammad stated this during the nationwide peaceful protest against the 45 per cent increase in electricity tariff which took effect from Feb. 1.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports the protest by the organised labour and civil society organisations took place across the country.
Muhammad who led officials of the union to picket the office of the Kaduna Electric Company, said the organised labour would do all things within the confine of the law to ensure their demands were met.
“We are out to conduct a peaceful protest and ensure we picket all the electricity offices across Sokoto to send the message from the masses to the government.
“This picketing organised by NLC became necessary to ensure that the present administration withdraws the exploitative tariff.
“The labour congress will ensure it passes the message to the government, to ensure that the tariff increase is withdrawn,’’ he said.
NAN reports that members of NLC locked the premises of Port-Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHEDC) in Uyo, Akwa-Ibom
The Akwa Ibom state Chairman of Trade Union Congress (TUC), Mr Akamba Awah, said TUC and NLC believed that there was no rationale behind the increase.
The union leader argued that there was no reason for the hike, adding that the state has Ibom Power Plant producing gas for electricity.
According to him, electricity is subsidised in Akwa Ibom by the state government.
Reacting in a telephone interview, the Public Relations Officer to PHEDC, Mr John Onyi, said that the company had invited labour for a meeting.
He said that as soon as the issue was resolved at the headquarters, all the state offices of the organisation would resume work immediately.
In Ado-Ekiti, NLC and TUC members also picketed the state headquarters of the Benin Electricity Distribution Company, (BEDC) over the issue.
The workers who were chanting anti-government songs, carried placards containing various anti-government inscriptions throughout the 30 minutes period the protest lasted.
NAN reports that the protesters vacated the area on sighting the police and members of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps.
The protest also took place in Makurdi with union leaders assuring that they would vehemently resist the increased electricity tariff in the country.
The organised labour lamented that the decision to step up the tariff was taken without recourse to critical stakeholder in the business of electricity consumption.
In Benin, the state Chairman of NLC, Emmanuel Ademokun, accused the distribution companies of disobeying a court order which he said ordered a stay of action on the increase.
“We are here on picketing as directed by the national body of the TUC, NLC and the civil society organisations, against the electricity tarrif increase.
“The civil societies, pensioners and market women are here with us. It is a fight for everybody; it is not a fight for only the workers.
He said the organised labour would continue to kick against the action until they reverse the decision.
NAN reports that the labour movement in Gombe also picketed the Jos Electricity Distribution Company (JED) in reaction to the increase.
Haruna Kamara, chairman, NLC Gombe, called on NERC to reverse the 45 per cent increase in tariff.
The organised labour in Kano was also not left behind in the peaceful protest.
Kabiru Minjibir, the Kano state chairman of NLC, who presented a protest letter to the Special Adviser on Labour Matters, Isah Danguguwa, expressed concern over the tariff increase.
“We consider the increase in the electricity tariff as illegal and unjustifiable.
“There is no significant improvement in the power supply. The increase does not consider the current economic situation in the country,” he said.
The Special Adviser assured the labour that the letter would be forwarded to the governor for onward submission to President Muhammadu Buhari.
In Ilorin, the protest was led by the Chairman of the Kwara chapter of the NLC, Alhaji abdul Yekini Agunbiade and the state Chairman of the Trade Union (TUC), Mr Kolawole Olumoh.
NAN reports that hundreds of protesters picketed the office of the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company in the state capital.
The TUC Chairman Mr Kolawole Olumo said there had not been any quality service delivery to justify the new increase.
He called on federal government to find a lasting solution to the issue of epileptic power supply in the country. (NAN)