The Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC has described the hike in electricity tariff by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC as a recipe for unrest in the country.

The Deputy President of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, Dr Tommy Okoh, said the hike is unacceptable, urging the government to allow the poor to breathe.

According to him, “The hike in the electricity tariff from 66/kwh to 225/kwh for people who enjoy electricity supply for 20 hours per day is totally unacceptable and a recipe for unrest.

“This shows clearly that Nigeria is not ready for 24 hours electricity supply. As we speak, you cannot point anywhere in Nigeria that people are enjoying 20 hours of electricity supply, not even at the airport where it is expected for economic reasons. 

“We think the government has goofed again especially at this time of socioeconomic challenges where the cost of living is very exorbitant and the salary of the workers remained static.

“Today, we are still battling with the fuel subsidy removal without any corresponding remedy and yet the increase in the electricity tariff without the supply of electricity. This government should know that they were not voted into office for the enslavement of the citizens but to protect and better the lots of the masses. This is an indication that the poor can no longer breathe.”

Recall that the NERC had  indicated that a total of 1,974,385 electricity consumers would be affected by its recent hike in tariff.

Vanguard learnt that the tariff hike was aimed at making a significant cut on the estimated N2.9 trillion electricity subsidy in the 2024 fiscal year.

It was further learnt that the hike became inevitable following cash flow constraints arising from FG’s inability to pay obligations to the Nigeria Electricity Market.

The NERC, on Tuesday, hiked electricity tariff for Band A customers by 230 percent from N68 per kilowatt hour to N225/kWh.

Band A customers are those that receive an average daily supply electricity supply 20 hours or more. With the   new order issued by NERC, Band A would no longer enjoy Federal Government subsidy on electricity.

The NERC said on Wednesday that subsidy payments across the bands has become unsustainable.

On July 1, 2023, President Bola Tinubu froze the electricity tariff at December 2022 level with a promise to pay the difference as subsidies. But the government has so far failed to pay any amount to the market, leading to the accumulation of N3.5 trillion debts to power generation companies and gas suppliers.

The Vice Chairman, NERC, Mr. Musliu Oseni, said, in order to ensure that only customers who receive at least 20 hours of electricity daily are on Band A, the number of feeders that meet the threshold has been reduced from 875 to less than 500.

He explained that only 15 percent of the 13,162,572 electricity customers nationwide would be affected by the tariff increase while the remaining customers would continue to pay the old rate until supply improved and they migrated to the new Band A.

NERC expressed the hope that the additional revenue would attract investments into the sector, adding that it would deploy several tools to ensure that customers in Band A would get the daily hours of supply from electricity distribution companies, DisCos.