There are very strong concerns that the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) might go ahead with the planned increase in electricity tariff from tomorrow, April 1, 2020. The concerns in the public domain are not helped by reports that the NERC has not issued any reversal order to Electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOs) on the planned tariff increase in power utility.
We wish to state that the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) seriously frowns at, completely condemns and totally rejects any plan to inflict further pain on Nigerians at this very trying period of the novel Corona Virus (Covid-19) pandemic through increase in electricity tariff. All the leaders of our affiliate unions were unanimous in rejecting the planned increase in electricity tariff during our recent interactive session with the NERC in Kano. We wish to state that any increase in electricity tariff would only convey a deafening expression of insensitivity to the plight of the Nigerian people who are currently dealing with the social scare, income hemorrhage, economic squeeze and mortal dread of Covid-19.
At a time like this, other countries of the world battling the Covid-19 pandemic are expanding social welfare and putting in place economic stimulus including distribution of free foods, free healthcare services, sanitary kits, utility bills reduction, debt moratorium, and cash support just to insulate their citizens from the harsh realities of the war against the novel Corona Virus. Our own case in Nigeria cannot be different.
If there is any time to show that peoples’ lives are all that really matters, it is now! If there is any time to show that it is people before profit, it is now. If there is any time to show that the very essence of government is the security and welfare of citizens, it is now. The war effort right now is how to beat the Covid-19 health insurgency and not scare-mongering already beleaguered citizens with electricity bills they cannot afford.
Nigerian workers find tremendous succor in the altruism shared by President Muhammadu Buhari in his address on 29th March, 2020 on government plans to support citizens through these tough times. We urge the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission not to embark on any fruitless adventure that would cast aspersion on the good intentions of Mr. President. Nigerians and indeed the global community have a real enemy to deal with and that is Covid-19. It would be totally unwise to make enemies out of ourselves and exacerbate the high voltage social tension that currently cascades all over the country.
A word is indeed enough for the wise.
Comrade Ayuba Wabba, mni