Government Addressing Electricity Tariff Demands, Minister Assures Labour

Nigeria’s Minister of Power, Bayo Adelabu, has assured Organized Labour that the demands presented to the government during their protest on Monday are being considered.

Adelabu gave the assurance while addressing journalists at the State House after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting.

The Minister also appealed to Organised Labour to be cautious enough not to derail its transformation plan for the power sector, saying to achieve the desired service the current sacrifice is required.

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

The first question was about the recent Labour unions’ peaceful protest about 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 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.

“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 labour 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 the 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 cost of generating, transmitting and distributing electricity is not less than N180 today. 

“A lot of them are paying below N60 so they still enjoy the 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.

The Minister however appealed to the Organised Labour and the entire populace to be patient with the administration in its strategy to restructure the Power sector into a standard and more efficient sector, which according to him will deliver the desired service to all Nigerians.

My appeal again is that they should please not derail or distract our transformation plan for the industry. We have a 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 was 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 the electricity supply was very low and every household, every company, and every institution, felt it. From the little reform that we’ve embarked upon since the beginning of 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 what we have embarked upon, we are aiming somewhere and we will achieve it”, he said.

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

FEC Approvals For Power Sector 

Meanwhile, the Executive Council approved three memoranda for the Federal Ministry of Power.

Adelabu hinted that the memos are aimed at further strengthening the nation’s power infrastructure nationwide. 

He said The first approval is for the procurement of 10 transformers and 10 reactors for the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) at a total cost of $4.8 million and N102 million naira this will enhance the optimal performance of the national grid, reduce the risk of electrical shock and equipment damage, and protect personnel from the effects of high voltage.

The second approval is for the construction of a 93-kilometre transmission line at Oji River/9th Mile for the 132 KV double circuit transmission line, for $33.9 million and N10.1 million naira.”

The project the Minister said will stabilize the national grid and expand its capacity, in line with the national grid expansion plan and the Presidential Power Initiative to increase the end-to-end capacity of the national grid.

He highlighted the third approval saying it is for the supply and installation of 15 units of emergency restoration systems for 330 KV and 132 KV transmission lines, to enable the quick fixing of vandalized and damaged power infrastructure, valued at $14. 

Adelabu said this will serve as a response to the impact of vandalism on power transmission assets, particularly in the Northeast region, where there has been a blackout for the past two weeks due to vandalism.

He assured that the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) is working to fix the vandalized assets and restore normalcy to the region by the end of the month. 

“The emergency restoration system will ensure 24/7 uninterrupted power supply, and the government is committed to ensuring the stability, sustainability, and cost-effectiveness of power supply, as well as planning for future growth.

“Overall, these approvals demonstrate the government’s commitment to addressing the challenges in the power sector and providing reliable power to citizens, which is critical for economic growth and development,” the Minister of Power added.

 

Lantana Nasir

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