Protesters shut down Abuja over electricity tariffs

Protesters shut down Abuja over electricity tariffs
February 08 21:24 2016

Business and official activities were on Monday grounded in Abuja as Nigerian labor unions and their civil society allies embarked on a peaceful mass protest against the hike in the electricity tariff which took effect early this month.

The protest which kicked off from the Labour House at the Central Business Area comprised of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and several civil society groups carrying placards with various inscriptions such as ; “Don’t increase electricity Tariff,” “Stop estimated billing,” “NERC and DISCOS obey court order,”Give us prepaid meters”We need light not darkness,” “We cannot pay more for darkness. ”

The first point of call was the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) located at Wuse Zone 4 where the President of the NLC, Ayuba Wabba addressed the crowd saying that the time of taking people for granted was over, that billing all over the world was based on what you consume.

He maintained that there must be a stop to the impunity as the regulatory agency is expected to protect the
interest of consumers. “President Buhari must stand with the people as he promised Nigerians and he must revisit the privatisation of
power sector. We would not allow where you ‘Genco and Disco’ to exploit Nigerians, and there must be an end to the  estimated billing.”.

Waba said the 45% increase in the Tariff is a fraud and stated that it would be rejected by Nigerians. He said that due process in the extant laws for such increment was not followed in consonance with section 76 of the Power Sector Reform Act, 2005. There has been no significant improvement in service delivery. Moreover, the fact is that most consumers are not metered as required by the privatization Memorandum of Understanding, MOU, signed on November 1, 2013, which stipulates that within 18 months gestation period, all consumers are to be metered.

While responding on behalf of company Head of Public Relations, Ahmed Shekarau told the protesters that the company would provide 100,000 prepaid meters free of charge to consumers, and same would repeat in the next
five years.

As at the time of filing this report the protesters were in Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Agency (NERC) to mobilise to the National Assembly where a formal letter would be handed over to the leadership.

The protest has been peaceful and orderly so far with security agents taking charge.