Nigeria suspends electricity tariff hikes as Labour shelves planned strike

*We signed a document to suspend action for 2 weeks for government to implement those things decided in the agreement ─Quadri Olaleye, President of TUC

*Technical Committee set up to examine justifications for new electricity tariff policy, and DisCos shall suspend application of cost-reflective electricity tariff adjustments during the 2 weeks

*NNPC Chief lauds government’s deal with Labour, says ‘we’ll follow through diligently’

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

Sequel to further discussions and negotiations till the wee hours of the morning between the Federal Government and Organised Labour in the country, the Nigeria Labour Congress (TUC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) have suspended the planned strike over fuel price and electricity tariff hikes earlier scheduled to commence Monday, September 28, 2020.

ConsumerConnect reports that the Labour unions have reached an agreement with the Federal Government at a meeting held in Abuja, FCT, between 8.30p.m. Sunday, September 27 and 2:50a.m. Monday morning.

Following deliberations on the issues raised by the Labour, the meeting agreed to suspend the application of the cost-reflective electricity tariff adjustments for two weeks.

Sen. (Dr.) Chris Ngige, Honorable Minister for Labour and Employment, read the five-page communiqué, which the representatives of both the government and Labour also signed.

It also was learnt that Comrade Ayuba Wabba, NLC President, and Quadri Olaleye, President of TUC, among other representatives signed on behalf of Organised Labour.

Whereas Sen. Ngige; Timipre Silva, Honourable Minister of State for Petroleum; Mr. Festus Keyamo (SAN), Honourable Minister of State for Labour and Employment; Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Honourable Minister for Information and Culture; Mr. Boss Mustapha, Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), and others signed on behalf of the Federal Government.

In relation to the development, the President of TUC said: “Definitely correct. We just left a press conference.

“We signed a document to suspend the action for two weeks for the government to implement those things that we agreed in the agreement. So, we are suspending for two weeks.

“We don’t need a notice again to re-convene if there is a need to do that.”

Report stated that the parties agreed to set up a technical committee comprising Ministries, Departments, Agencies (MDAs), NLC and TUC.

Members of the committee include Festus Keyamo (SAN) as Chairman; Godwin Jedy-Agba, Minister of State for Power; Prof. James Momoh, Chairman of Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC); Ahmad Zakari, Special Assistant to the President on Infrastructure, as the Secretary.

Other members of the technical committee are Onoho’Omhen Ebhohimhen, Joe Ajaero (NLC), Chris Okonkwo (TUC), and a representative of electricity distribution companies (DisCos).

A communiqué after the meeting indicated that the technical committee would work for duration of two weeks effective September 28 in order to examine the justifications for the new policy of electricity tariff adjustments in the country.

This is “in view of the need for the validation of the basis for the new cost-reflective tariff as a result of the conflicting information from the fields which appeared different from the data presented to justify the new policy by NERC; metering deployment, challenges, timeline for massive rollout.”

The committee’s terms of reference include consideration of the justification for the new policy on cost-reflective electricity tariff adjustments; to look at the different DisCos and their different electricity tariff vis-à-vis NERC order and mandate.

Others are to examine and advise the government on the issues that have hindered the deployment of the six million meters among others.

It said: “During the two weeks, the DisCos shall suspend the application of the cost-reflective electricity tariff adjustments.”

It also noted that the FG has fashioned out palliatives that would ameliorate the sufferings that Nigerian workers may experience as a result of the hike in cost electricity tariffs and the deregulation of the downstream sector of the petroleum industry.

The palliatives will be in the areas of transport, power, housing, agriculture and humanitarian support.

The meeting also resolved that the 40 per cent stake of government in the DISCO and the stake of workers should be reflected in the composition of the DISCO’s boards.

“An all-inclusive and independent review of the power sector operations as provided in the privatisation MoU to be undertaken before the end of the year 2020, with Labour represented.

“All parties agreed on the urgency for increasing the local refining capacity of the nation to reduce the overdependency on importation of petroleum products to ensure energy security, reduce cost of finished products, increase employment and business opportunities for Nigerians.”

To address this, the parties resolved that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation should expedite the rehabilitation of the nation’s four refineries located in Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna to achieve 50 per cent completion by December 2021, while timelines and delivery for Warri and Kaduna will be established by the inclusive steering committee.

The communiqué further stated that “to ensure commitment and transparency to the processes and timelines of the rehabilitation exercise, the management of NNPC has offered to integrate the national leadership of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers and Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association into the steering committee already established by the corporation.”

A validation team comprising the representatives of the NNPC, Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission, NUPENG and PENGASSAN would be established to monitor progress of the rehabilitation of the refineries and the pipelines/strategic depots network and advice the steering committee periodically, among others.

Meanwhile, Malam Mele Kyari, Group Managing Director (GMD) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), has hailed the decision of Labour leaders to suspend their planned national strike and protests scheduled to have commenced Monday.

In a tweet via his verified official Twitter handle Monday, Malam Kyari lauded the leadership of the Labour unions for choosing the pursuit of common good for Nigerian consumers.

He stated: “Being a former union leader, I understand the difficulties of labour leadership when faced with choices between stark realities and legitimate follower expectations.

“The leadership chose the pursuit of common good and posterity will vindicate us all for standing with our country. “

According to the NNPC GMD, the Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress, by their action in suspending the countrywide industrial action and protests, have demonstrated absolute faith in the country.

Kyari said: “They showed understanding on inevitability of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) deregulation and jointly charted way forward to secure local refining sufficiency through greater stakeholder inclusiveness and transparency.

“We will follow through diligently.”

Kindly Share This Story