FG to Labour: Don’t Disrupt Our Power Sector Plans

YEPS
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Labour leaders protesting electricity hike on Monday.

Amidst ongoing protests against the recent electricity tariff hike, the Federal Government has called on labour unions to refrain from disrupting its efforts to reform the power sector.

This plea comes as tensions escalate between the government and labour unions over the tariff increases. The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) have been picketing offices of the National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and Distribution Companies (DisCos) nationwide in response to the hike.

Addressing State House correspondents after the Federal Executive Council meeting on Tuesday, Minister of Power Adebayo Adelabu acknowledged the right of the unions to protest, urging them to maintain a peaceful approach.

“We cannot stop them from organizing peaceful protests or laying down their demands. Let me make that clear. President Bola Tinubu’s administration is also a listening government,” he stated.

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Adelabu assured that the protesters’ demands have been noted and that President Tinubu is committed to enhancing the power sector.

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“We have heard their demands, we are going to review them, and we will engage further. I believe we will reach a peaceful resolution with the labour unions because no government can succeed without their cooperation and partnership. We welcome the peaceful protest and I’m pleased it was not violent. They have made their positions known, and the government is considering their demands,” the minister said.

Adelabu highlighted that most protesters are not directly affected by the tariff increase, noting that many still benefit from substantial government subsidies.

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“From the statistics, more than 95% of those protesting are not impacted by the tariff hike. They still enjoy almost 70% government subsidy. The average cost of generating, transmitting, and distributing electricity is not less than N180, yet many are paying below N60. So, when they call for a reversal of the increased tariff, it’s not affecting them,” he clarified.

The minister urged the unions not to derail or distract the government’s transformation plan for the power industry.

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“We have a documented reform roadmap aimed at achieving reliable, functional, cost-effective, and affordable electricity in Nigeria. This cannot be achieved overnight as we are addressing a decay of nearly 60 years. We need sacrifice from everyone – the government, the people, and the private sector – to achieve permanent gains,” he stated.

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Adelabu also emphasized the improvements in electricity supply since the reforms began in April, urging for continued support to prevent a return to the low generation levels experienced in February and March.

“I don’t want us to go back to the situation where we had very low generation. We all felt the impact of this when electricity supply was very low. From the reforms we have initiated, we have already seen improvements, and it can only get better,” he concluded.

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