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National Union of Electricity Employees Threaten to go on Strike over High Tarrif, FG Begs

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By Uche Amunike

 

The National Union of Electricity Employees have threatened to withdraw their services if the Federal Government refuses to rescind its decision on the removal of subsidy on tariff payable to Band A customers.

 

Speaking, during an interview with Newsmen on Sunday, the National President of the union, Adebiyi Adeyeye, maintained that their union meant every word of their warning to the federal government.

 

Recall that on April 3, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission increased the tariff on electricity for customers enjoying 20 hours of power supply on a daily basis. These customers were classified under Band A and the increase in their tariff rose from N66KWh to N225 per kilowatt-hour.

 

The National Union of Electricity Employees had earlier warned the Federal Government to reverse the increase in tariff, for the good of members. They stated: ‘If the government fails to address the crippling cost of electricity, NUEE will not hesitate to take strong action, including the swift withdrawal of our members expected to be used by DisCos to impose the tariff hike on the good people, to protect the livelihood of our members.’

 

According to Adeyeye, the idea of supplying 20 hours of electricity is not feasible with the present infrastructure. Hear him: ‘We just want the citizens to know that this thing is not possible, it is not feasible, you cannot keep what you don’t have. When we don’t have the energy to give to the people and you ask our people to go out and collect such money, you know it is dangerous. Most times we don’t discuss what to do to the public because our sector is very critical to the nation.’

 

He stated that the National Union of Electricity Employees have not given an ultimatum on the strike, but that they are advising the Federal Government to do right by them, otherwise they will withdraw their services.

 

He further stated: ‘The reason why we are saying this is simple, you ask our members to go the the public to collect 20-hour tariff from people that are not even experiencing a four-hour supply of electricity. There is no way there won’t be crises between our staff and those customers.’

 

‘We’ve recorded a lot of attacks on our members, even with the present situation. And these guys have nothing to defend themselves. They have targets to meet where there is no supply. Our members are being threatened by the DisCos, even when they know that what they are promising Nigerians is not feasible.’

 

He explained that the high tariff will only end up aggravating attacks on them, therefore, the union must save its members from daily attacks.

 

He reiterated: ‘We told our members that they cannot go out and collect that kind of tariff from unmetered customers. More than 70 per cent of these Band A customers are not metered. The government is just promising what we don’t have. We are the ones working there, we know we don’t have the transformers to distribute such load. 20 hours of electricity is not possible except for those on eligible lines. We were not carried before the tariff hike.’

He stood his grounds about withdrawing their members if the federal government did not do the right thing.

 

Minister of Power, Adebayo Adelabu has however appealed to the National Union of Electricity Employees not to withdraw its members, as the Federal Government was trying their best to improve power supply in the country, so that everybody will be happy.

 

While making this appeal through his media aide, Bolaji Tunji, he pleaded that the union should bear with the government and work in unison with them.

 

His words: ‘We just want to appeal to the labour union to understand what led to this. This is not about strike. it is about understanding; so that we can all work together. It is not anybody’s joy that there are blackouts all the time. These steps are being taken to solve the problems in the power sector.

> Adebowale:
I beg the labour union to understand that this will galvanise the economy and create jobs. I want to appeal to the union to bear with us. It is for the good of the nation.’

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