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NLC State Chairman, addressing the protesting workers

Increase in electricity tariff: Akwa Ibom NLC, TUC protest; Picket PHED, DISCO facilities

TUC Akwa Ibom chairman addressing workers
TUC Akwa Ibom chairman addressing workers
NLC State Chairman, addressing the protesting workers
NLC State Chairman, addressing the protesting workers
DISCO office in Uyo picketed by the workers
DISCO office in Uyo picketed by the workers

DENNIS UDOMA, Uyo

The one day nation-wide unrest by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC),Trade Union Congress (TUC) and other civil society groups over the hike in electricity tariff by the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission and Electricity Distribution Company (Discos), took place in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom state capital on Monday with a warning to the Federal Government to withdraw the new tarriff or face a general strike by workers.

This is even as the country’s power generation capacity is put at 5,500 Megawatts, while the actual generation according to statistics from the ministry of power is about 3,800 Megawatts due to incessant acts of vandalism on the pipeline network which supply gas to some power stations in the country.

Chairmen of the NLC and TUC, Akwa Ibom State chapters, Comrades Etim Ukpong and Akamba Awa respectively, who spoke separately at a rally in Uyo, stated that, the time was not ripe for government to embark on outrageous increases in electricity charges without going though the due processes on the matter.

They said that the issues in contention were very clear, that, the current tariff was putting unnecessary pressure on the citizenry, describing the attempt to increase it as a crime against humanity.

Comrade Akamba Awa maintained that, for the tariff to be effective and operational there were rules to be followed. The first, he said, is that, in the constitution there are provisions for increase in electricity tariff and, pointing out that in any democratic setting like ours, the legislature must come up with a bill or a public hearing where the stakeholders would have an opportunity to express their opinion on the increase.

“On this same issue, workers have taken government to court and the case has not been heard and, there is no judgment to give government the authority to go ahead with this action. If government cannot confine itself within the law, then it is looking for anarchy and this is the time to cry out.

“Earlier on when they bought the so call DISCOs, they told us that, in 18 months time they will give consumers meters and these meters will make them measure the energy consumed and, how to price energy but now, how do you price what you don’t consume?

“If you buy a liter of fuel, you would know that you bought a liter. Is it not in liters that they are selling the fuel? Where is the meter that that they are using in selling electricity for you to know what you are using?

“So, we say it is a fraud and we are not going to accept it. This is a warning strike. If the Federal Government does not deem it fit to withdraw the new tariff, we will go on a general strike to drive home this point that; this is not the time for it. That, they must pass through all procedures and processes to get to where they want to”, he added.

Also, his NLC counterpart, Comrade Etim Ukpong who described the attempt to increase tariff as callous said, nobody ever asked the Federal Government to sell off NEPA so that the common people would bear the brunt of mismanagement by the government.

He wondered why the Federal Government would increase electricity tariff without first consulting the consumers.

Comrade Ukpong warned that, workers would resist any attempt by the government to impose unnecessary increase in electricity tariff on the people, saying that, the picketing of the Port-Harcourt Electricity and Distribution facilities was a warning, stressing that it is in their best interest to make government rescind its decision on the matter.

The workers, later trooped to Government House Uyo, to lodge their complaints to Governor Udom Emmanuel but, were only attended to by the Chief Security Detail (names withheld) since the Governor was not on hand to address them.

Meanwhile, the exercise paralyzed business activities in the metropolis for over nine hours as most places visited experienced total power outage.

The picketing of power installations was done simultaneously across the state.

About Global Patriot Staff

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