NLC seals IBEDC offices in Kwara

Agunbiade said electricity distribution companies should not increase tariff until electricity was stabilized in the country so that consumers would know that they are paying for services rendered

Officials of the Nigeria Labour Congress in Kwara State on Monday sealed off the premises of the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company over increase in electricity tariff.
The NLC, led by the State Chairman, Yekini Agunbiade, arrived the Challenge office of the IBEDC on Muritala Mohammed Road at about 8.45am and chased away workers that had reported for work.
Agunbiade told newsmen that the decision to picket the company was taken at the National Executive Council meeting of the Congress in Abuja on January 29, 2016.
He said the NLC passed a resolution to reject any form of increment of electricity tariff in the country.
The NLC chairman said the picketing was a warning to IBEDC to stop the increment and revert to the old tariff.
Agunbiade said electricity distribution companies should not increase tariff until electricity was stabilized in the country so that consumers would know that they are paying for services rendered.
He accused the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola (SAN), of flouting a court order by going ahead to announce increment in the tariff.
The NLC boss said a case was pending before Justice Yemi Adebiyi of an Abuja High Court challenging the decision of the minister to increase tariff.
He said many houses in the state had no meters, “but IBEDC just bring crazy bills to such houses every month”.
According to Agunbiade, the situation in the country did not favour any increment in electricity tariff as the majority of the masses are suffering from the harsh economic situation.
He said: “In Kwara, for example, people find it very difficult to eat good food.
“Many of them are living in abject poverty.
“Salaries are not paid.
“So to pay the new tariff will be difficult for them.”
According to him, masses in the country are suffering due to economic hardship Nigeria is facing, adding that Fashola should not compound the suffering by increasing tariff on electricity.
Agunbiade, therefore, appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to wade into the matter and rescue the masses from the obnoxious tariff increment.
The TUC Chairman in the state, Kolawole Olumoh, led the protest to the Baboko Business Unit of the IBEDC to picket workers there.
The protest, which lasted for almost five hours, featured various solidarity songs condemning the new electricity tariff.
NAN reports that NLC officials displayed many placards with various inscriptions such as: Increase in tariff is not the answer, drop the idea, and we can’t pay more for sick light.
Others are: Stop your crazy bill, it is an act of corruption; Give us 24 hours uninterrupted light; and Oga Fashola, Nigeria as a nation is not Lagos as a state, think twice.
The rest were: Provide pre-payment meters for every house and Put necessary equipment in place to serve us better.
Some electricity consumers who spoke to NAN expressed their support for the NLC’s action and appealed to the Federal Government to revert the situation.
A book vendor in Challenge, Chimezie Anyanwu, said he was in full in support of the NLC action because IBEDC cannot justify any reason for the increase in tariff.
Anyanwu said electricity supply had remained epileptic and at times his area would be in darkness for up to two weeks.
According to him, before IBEDC or any electricity distribution company can talk of increasing tariff, electricity must be stable, regular and bright.
A civil servant, who did not want her name mentioned, appealed to the NLC to do something about minimum wage of workers in the country.
She said though NLC’s action was commendable, its leadership at the national level should start agitating for the upward review of the minimum wage of workers in the country.
According to her, the last review of minimum wage was six years ago, adding that another one was due and appealed to NLC to pursue the interests of Nigerian workers.