FG urges electricity union to rescind decision on strike

Onwubuke Melvin
Onwubuke Melvin

The Federal Government has pleaded with the members of the National Union of Electricity Employees not to embark on industrial action over the recent rise of electricity tariffs.

This was disclosed by the National President of the union, Adebiyi Adeyeye, in an interview on Sunday, according to The Punch.

This follows the insistence of the union to down tool should the government fail to reverse its decision on the removal of subsidy on the tariff payable by Band A customers.

Adeyeye said the electricity union would not back down in its warning to the Federal Government.

The Federal Government through the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission had recently increased electricity tariff by 231 per cent for category A consumers. The new Multi-Year Tariff Order raised electricity rates for about two million customers from N68 per kilowatt to N255 per kilowatt.

The NERC also ordered the 11 distribution companies to publish their list of customers in Band A, which will have access to a minimum supply of 20 hours per day, following the removal of the power subsidy.

Commenting on this development, the union called on the government to reverse its tariff increases saying “If the government fails to address the crippling cost of electricity, NUEE will not hesitate to take strong action, including the swift withdrawal of our member’s expected to be used by DisCos to impose the tariff hike on the good people, to protect the livelihood of our members.”

Adeyeye added “We just want the citizen to know that this thing is not possible, it is not feasible, you cannot give what you don’t have. When we don’t have the energy to give to the people and you ask our people to go out and collect such money, you know it is dangerous. Most times we don’t disclose what to do to the public because our sector is very critical to the nation.

“The reason why we are saying this is simple, you ask our members to go the public to collect a 20-hour tariff from people that are not even experiencing a four-hour supply of electricity. There is no way there won’t be crises between our staff and those customers.

“We’ve recorded a lot of attacks on our members, even with the present situation. And these guys have nothing to defend themselves. They have targets to meet where there is no supply. Our members are being threatened by the DisCos, even when they know that what they are promising Nigerians is not feasible.”

He stated that the union would have to protect its members from attacks every day, claiming a rise in electricity tariff would exacerbate them.

“We told our members that they cannot go out and collect that kind of tariff from unmetered customers. More than 70 per cent of these Band A customers are not metered. The government is just promising what we don’t have. We are the ones working there, we know we don’t have the transformers to distribute such a load. 20 hours of electricity is not possible except for those on eligible lines. We were not carried before the tariff hike.”

However, the Minister of Power, Adebayo Adelabu, speaking through his media aide, Bolaji Tunji has called on the union not to withdraw its services.

He said “We just want to appeal to the labour union to understand what led to this. This is not about strike. it is about understanding; so that we can all work together. It is not anybody’s joy that there are blackouts all the time. These steps are being taken to solve the problems in the power sector. I beg the labour union to understand that this will galvanise the economy and create jobs.

“I want to appeal to the union to bear with us. It is for the good of the nation.”

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