Electricity tariff: Don’t derail plans in power sector, FG begs Labour

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The Federal Government has appealed to the Organised Labour not to derail its transformation plan for the power sector, saying to achieve the desired service the current sacrifice is required.

Minister of Power, Bayo Adelabu, who made the appeal while addressing journalists at the State House after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting on Tuesday, also assured Labour that the demands they placed before government during their protest on Monday were being considered.

Leaders of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) led their members on peaceful protest in different parts of the country, picketing the activities of agencies and institutions under the Power Ministry, demanding the reversal of recent increase in electricity tariff.

However, reacting to the demands by the Labour unions, Adelabu said the Federal Government had noted their grievances and would be engaging further with them, emphasising that President Bola Tinubu’s administration is a listening government.

“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 organizing 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 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 labor 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, 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,” he said.

He appealed to the Organised Labour and the entire populace to be patient with the administration in its planned strategy to restructure the power sector into a standard and more efficient sector, which delivers the desired service to all Nigerians.

According to him, the current administration was aware of the decayed state of the nation’s power sector, which he said had been so for almost 60 years, adding that the programme of the Tinubu administration is to correct the situation.

“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 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,” he said.

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