Ayuba Wabba, NLC President

BY EMEKA EJERE

The Organsied Labour is pushing for a 40 per cent reduction in electricity tariffs, following September’s increase by the federal government.

Labour is standing on the premise of findings that gas, a major component of the Distribution Companies (Discos), should not be sold in dollars.

According to Organised Labour, the product should be sold to Discos at $1.50, as against $2.50, even if it is to be sold in foreign currency.

Organised Labour found that the Discos consume 70 per cent of the gas generated in the country, wondering why the government has to always increase tariff.

A source close to the seven-man committee set up by the Federal Government faulted the continuous sale of gas to Discos in dollars.

President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ayubba Wabba and that of the Trade Union Congress, Quadri Olaleye, had threatened to embark on strike after an increase in electricity tariff in September last year,

However, after several hours of horse-trading, the proposed strike was suspended, with Labour and the federal government agreeing to set up a committee to review the increase.

The committee submitted an interim report, which recommended a temporary suspension of the tariff.

In January, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) issued an order to DisCos – signalling an increase in electricity tariff, but the move was suspended.

However, a source close to the committee, who pleaded anonymity, said NERC has not stopped in its plans to push for an increase in tariff.

The source, who is a Labour chieftain, accused the regulator of being in bed with both the DisCos and Generating Companies in the push for an increase in electricity tariff.

The source said: “These guys are unanimous in the increase in tariff. NERC is supporting them (Discos and Gencos) but we are after NERC because the indices for the review are actually faulty and you can’t get a perfect tariff review based on a faulty premium.

“By the time you dollarise gas, you are giving them (discos and gencos) gas at one dollar fifty cents and then electricity that consumes 70 per cent of gas generated in the country, instead of theirs to be down, they are giving them at two dollars fifty cents. That is what we discovered.

“Even if you are to insist on giving it in dollars; which is wrong since our currency is naira, it should be brought down to industry standard – which is one dollar fifty cents. We are taking one dollar from it and that will constitute over 40 per cent reduction in tariff.

“Even at that, for using 70 per cent (of the gas produced in the country), theirs should be lower because they consume the bulk of the gas we produce.”