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Tariff hike: FG begs workers as electricity union insists on strike


The Federal Government has appealed to members of the National Union of Electricity Employees not to down tools over the recent electricity tariff hike.

This is as the union insisted that they would withdraw their services should the government fail to rescind its decision on the removal of subsidy on the tariff payable by Band A customers.

The National President of the union, Adebiyi Adeyeye, in an interview with our correspondent on Sunday said the union stood by its warning to the Federal Government.

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission had on April 3 raised the electricity tariff for customers enjoying 20 hours of power supply daily.

Customers in this category were said to be under the Band A classification and the increase raised their tariff to N225 per kilowatt-hour, from N66KWh.

In its earlier reaction, the union had warned the government to reverse the tariff hike 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 members expected to be used by DisCos to impose the tariff hike on the good people, to protect the livelihood of our members.”

Speaking with our correspondent, Adeyeye the supply of 20 hours of electricity is not feasible with the current infrastructure.

“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,” he stated.

While saying that the union has yet to give any ultimatum on strike, he stressed the NUEE is advising the government to do the needful “before we will withdraw our services”.

He explained, “The reason why we are saying this is simple, you ask our members to go the the public to collect 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 disclosed that the union must save its members from daily attacks, saying the hike would aggravate the attacks.

“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 load. 20 hours of electricity is not possible except for those on eligible lines. We were not carried before the tariff hike,” the union leader emphasised.

Adeyeye, who said the union would not accept any threat from anyone said, “On the issue of strike, it is not what we normally do directly. We said it that we would withdraw our services if the government fails to do the needful, and we are still under that ‘if’. They still have time to do the needful. It is very difficult for us to collect such money. We don’t have the equipment to supply even 10 hours of electricity to the people.

“We stand on our point, and they can’t bring people from anywhere to come and do this work. We Nigerians will do this work ourselves and heaven will not fall. If they fail to do the needful, we will withdraw our members, and we will never accept any threat from anybody. Nigeria belongs to all of us”.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Power, Adebayo Adelabu, has urged the union not to withdraw its members.

In an interview, Adelabu, who spoke through his media aide, Bolaji Tunji, said the government was doing everything to improve supply in Nigeria and everybody will be happy at the end of the day.

“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,” he stated.

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