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Fuel Subsidy: Labour Backs Down, Suspends Planned Nationwide Protest

NLC Threatens Industrial Action Over Electricity Tariff Hike By Felix ifijeh Organized labour, under the aegis of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), has warned that it would embark on an industrial action if the speculation about an increase in electricity tariff becomes a reality. NLC stated this in a letter titled, “Notice on Speculations on increase in Electricity Tariff,” signed by its president, Ayuba Wabba. The current electricity tariff charged for residential areas in both Abuja and Lagos ranges from N36 to N47.09 per kilowatt. The Federal Government approved the last increase in electricity tariff in January 2021 following complaints by the operators of the distribution companies that low tariff was adversely affecting their business. However, there have been speculations that the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) was planning to grant fresh approvals for an increase in tariff by commencing the processes for the Minor Review of the Multi-Year Tariff Order (MYTO-2020). According to reports, NERC is considering inflationary pressure, foreign exchange, gas prices and available generation capacity as part of the reasons for the proposed tariff hike. However, there have been negotiations between the Federal Government and organized labour on modalities to use in arriving at a tariff mechanism acceptable to both parties. In the letter, NLC dismissed reports of an on-going plan to increase electricity tariff as mere speculation. The letter read, “We wish to draw your attention to the wave of speculation, especially as widely reported in the media, that there are fresh plans to grant approval to Electricity Distribution Companies to hike electricity tariff. “We write to remind the minister that organized labour on September 28, 2020 through the federal government-organized labour committee on Electricity Tariff agreed to freeze further increases in electricity tariff until the committee concludes its work and its report adopted by all the principals in the committee. “It is in light of this that we dismiss the on-going speculation on increase in electricity tariff as mere speculations. We, however, find it prudent to put you on notice that should the government make true the swirling speculation by approving an increase in electricity tariff, organized labour would be left with no option than to deploy the industrial mechanisms granted in our laws for the defense of workers’ rights.”
National President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba

January 25, (THEWILL) – The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has suspended its nationwide protests slated for Thursday, 27th January and February 2, 2022.

Labour took the decision at its National Executive Council meeting, which was held virtually on Tuesday.

NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, who disclosed the development at press conference hinged the decision to suspend the protests on the reversal of the Federal Government’s plan to stop the subsidy on petrol.

He said members of the NLC who had been mobilised would be demobilised following the decision to suspend the protests.

He said, “At the peak of very rigorous mobilisation of Nigerians by the Nigeria Labour Congress and a host of her civil society allies, the government through the Minister of Finance yesterday, January 24, 2022, made a public announcement reversing the plans to increase petrol pump price.

“The position of the government was also officially communicated to the Congress with calls for further engagement. Following the reversal and reapproach by the government, the National Executive Council of the Nigeria Labour Congress met this morning virtually to consider the new position of the government.

“The NEC after vigorous debates took a decision to suspend the planned nationwide protest scheduled for January 27, 2022, and the national protest scheduled for February 2, 2022.”

Wabba said the congress has communicated the decision to its civil society allies who have stood stoically behind Nigerian workers in their quest for social and economic justice.

The union argued that the attendant effect of the proposed removal of petrol subsidy would push the pump price of petrol to between N320 and N340 per litre.

This, it noted, would have exacerbated the inflation in the country, deepened poverty, heightened social tensions and push the country and millions of poor citizens to the very precipice.

Wabba further said that the NLC would continue to engage with the government on the very critical issues of ensuring local refining of petroleum, creation of sustainable jobs and affordable price of petrol for Nigerian workers and people.

It commended the workers, people and the civil society allies for “their unwavering solidarity and support during this struggle.”