Electricity Tariff Hike: Labour Unions Shut Down NERC, DisCos Nationwide

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The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) launched a nationwide shutdown of electricity distribution companies (DisCos) and the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) offices in response to the recent hike in electricity tariffs.

During a protest at NERC headquarters in Abuja, union leaders demanded the reclamation of public electricity assets. Protesters carried placards with messages such as “We are not a generator Republic” and “Let the poor breathe. Give us affordable and constant light,” highlighting their frustration with the power sector.

NLC President, Comrade Joe Ajaero, criticized the privatization of the electricity sector as a failure and called for its reversal. He emphasized the burden of tariff increases on wage earners, who cannot adjust their N30,000 minimum wage to meet rising energy costs. Ajaero also highlighted the adverse effects on small and medium-sized enterprises, which are crucial to Nigeria’s economy.

Ajaero reiterated the unions’ rejection of the tariff hike and the customer classification system. He urged the government to honor agreements from September 2021 and 2023, which include a review of the privatization process, the de-dollarization of gas supply for electricity, and the widespread distribution of prepaid meters.

In response, NERC Chairman, Sanusi Garba, acknowledged the peaceful nature of the protest and the concerns raised. He assured that the commission would consider issues of tariff affordability and energy source diversification.

The protest affected various states, with labor unions picketing the headquarters of the Jos Electricity Distribution Company (JED) in Plateau State, Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC) in Ebonyi State, and the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) in Ondo State. In Bayelsa, the unions protested at the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHED) office. In Adamawa, the Yola Electricity Distribution Company (YEDC) and the Electricity Regulatory Commission of Nigeria (ERCN) offices were shut down. Osun State saw the closure of the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC) Business Hub, and in Kebbi and Ekiti States, the unions also enforced shutdowns of electricity offices.

The NLC and TUC emphasized that the protest was to make a statement to the federal government that the electricity tariff increment was unacceptable.

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