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Tariff Hike: Don’t Derail FG’s Reform Plan, Power Minister Tells Labour


(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – The Minister of Power, Adebayo Adelabu, says any reversal in the hike of electricity tariff for Band A customers in the country will derail the reform agenda of the President Bola Tinubu administration for the power sector.

Adelabu spoke on Tuesday after the Federal Executive Council (EFC) meeting at the Aso Villa in Abuja.

His comments followed the nationwide picketing of the offices of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and distribution companies by the Organised Labour on Monday.

Adelabu said, “A lot of them (protesting) are paying below N60 so they still enjoy the government’s subsidy. So when they say we should reverse the recently increased tariff, sincerely it’s not affecting them. That’s one position.

“My appeal again is that they should please not derail or distract our transformation plan for the industry. We have a clearly documented reform roadmap to take us to our desired destination, where we’re going to have reliable, functional, cost-effective and affordable electricity in Nigeria. It cannot be achieved overnight because this is a decay of almost 60 years, which we are trying to correct.

“Nobody promised us or assured us that the road will be smooth. We knew it’s going to be rough, but we must weather the storm, which is going to be temporary. It’s a lot of sacrifice from everybody; from the government’s side, from the people’s side, from the private sector side. So we must bear this sacrifice for us to have a permanent gain.

“I don’t want us to go back to the situation we were in February and March, where we had very low generation. We all felt the impact of this whereby electricity supply was very low and every household, every company, every institution, felt it. From the little reform that we’ve embarked upon since the beginning of April, we have seen the impact that electricity has improved and it can only get better.

“So I’m appealing to everybody that one should not toy with this before that we have embarked upon, we are aiming somewhere and we will achieve it.”

On April 3, 2024, NERC raised electricity tariff for customers enjoying 20 hours power supply daily. Customers in this category are said to be under the Band A classification. The increase saw the customers paying N225 kilowatt per hour from the current N66, a development that has been heavily criticised by many Nigerians, considering the immediacy of the tariff hike and the current hardship in the land.

Following the outrage, NERC asked discos to cut down electricity tariff rate by 8.1% for customers under Band A category. The outrage, however, persisted with many Nigerians rejecting the reduction and demanding a total reversal of the tariff hike. The NLC and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) subsequently picketed NERC offices and discos on Monday to press home their demands.

When asked to respond to the position of the Organised Labour, the power minister said, “The first question was about the recent Labour unions’ peaceful protest with regards to the recently increased tariffs for Band A customers in Nigeria’s electricity supply industry. Let me first make it abundantly clear that we are in democracy so there are fundamental human rights. I cannot deny people their rights.

“It’s the right of the Labour to protest peacefully and to come up with their demands, from the perspective they saw what we did. It is clearly allowed, it is legitimate and it is understandable. So we cannot stop them from organising a peaceful protest or laying down their demands. Let me make that clear. President Bola Tinubu’s administration is also a listening government.

“We have heard the demands, we’re going to look at it, we’ll make further engagements and I believe we’re going to reach a peaceful resolution with the Labour because no government can succeed without the cooperation, collaboration and partnership with the Labour unions. So, we welcome the peaceful protest and I’m happy that it was not a violent protest. They’ve made their positions known and government has taken in their demands and we’re looking at it.

“But one thing that I want to state here is from the statistics of those affected by the hike in tariff, the people on the road yesterday (on Monday), who embarked on the peaceful protests, more than 95% of them are not affected by the increase in the tariff of electricity. They still enjoy almost 70% government subsidy in the tariff they pay because the average costs of generating, transmitting and distributing electricity is not less than N180 today.

“A lot of them are paying below N60 so they still enjoy government’s subsidy. So when they say we should reverse the recently increased tariff, sincerely it’s not affecting them. That’s one position.”

 


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