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‘Increment of electricity tariff may escalate poverty, deepen crisis’

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The planned increment of electricity tariff that was hitherto expected to take effect from today (April 1) will escalate poverty rate in the country and deepen social crisis occasioned by COVID-19, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has said.

President of NLC, Ayuba Wabba, said in Abuja yesterday, that there are very strong concerns that the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) might go ahead with the planned increase in electricity tariff from today, April 1, 2020.

Labour opined that Nigerians and indeed the global community have a real enemy to deal with and that is Covid-19 and that any increment now might worsen the situation.

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The movement noted that concerns in the public domain are not helped by reports that the NERC has not issued any reversal order to Electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOs) on the planned tariff increase in power utility.

NLC stated that it frowns at and completely condemns and totally rejects any plan to inflict further pain on Nigerians at this very trying period of the novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic through increase in electricity tariff.

It added that the leaders of its affiliate unions were unanimous in rejecting the planned increase in electricity tariff during the Congress interactive session with NERC in Kano.

It added: “We wish to state that any increase in electricity tariff would only convey a deafening expression of insensitivity to the plight of the Nigerian people who are currently dealing with the social scare, income haemorrhage, economic squeeze and mortal dread of Covid-19.

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”At a time like this, other countries of the world battling the Covid-19 pandemic are expanding social welfare and putting in place economic stimulus including distribution of free foods, free healthcare services, sanitary kits, utility bills reduction, debt moratorium, and cash support just to insulate their citizens from the harsh realities of the war against the novel Corona Virus. Our own case in Nigeria cannot be different.”

NLC further noted that if there is any time to show that peoples’ lives are all that really matters, it is now.

“If there is any time to show that it is people before profit, it is now. If there is any time to show that the very essence of government is the security and welfare of citizens, it is now. The war effort right now is how to beat the Covid-19 health insurgency and not scare-mongering already beleaguered citizens with electricity bills they cannot afford.

”Nigerian workers find tremendous succour in the altruism shared by President Muhammadu Buhari in his address on 29th March, 2020 on government plans to support citizens through these tough times,” it said. NLC urged NERC not to embark on any fruitless adventure that would cast aspersion on the good intentions of President Buhari.

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