Labour Demands Reversal of Electricity Tariff Hike as Protests Begin

The organized labour, including the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), will commence nationwide protests today in response to the Federal Government’s recent hike in electricity tariffs and the removal of subsidies from the power sector.

Nationwide Protests Planned

The NLC National Treasurer, Olatunji Ambali, and TUC National Deputy President, Tommy Etim, confirmed the planned protests, insisting on reverting the tariffs to the subsidy era rates. The protests are expected to lead to the shutdown of the Abuja headquarters of the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), the Ministry of Power, and state offices of power distribution companies.

Tariff Hike Details

The NERC announced the tariff hike for Band A customers at a press briefing in Abuja on April 3, increasing the rate from N68/kWh to N225/kWh, a significant 240% increase. This hike marked the removal of subsidies for customers in the Band A category, who make up about 15% of the total 12.82 million power consumers nationwide. The government claims the increase will save N1.5 trillion.

Calls for Reversal

The House of Representatives, organized labour, the Nigerian Bar Association, the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, electricity consumers, and civil society organizations have all demanded a reversal of the hike. The House called on NERC to suspend the implementation of the new tariffs.

Government’s Justification

Minister of Power, Adebayo Adelabu, justified the increase during an investigative hearing by the Senate Committee on Power, chaired by Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe. He warned of a nationwide blackout within three months if the tariff increase was not implemented. “The entire sector will be grounded if we don’t increase the tariff. With what we have now, in the next three months, the entire country will be in darkness if we don’t increase tariffs,” Adelabu stated.

Labour’s Stance

Despite the government’s justifications, the NLC and TUC are adamant about the reversal. Speaking at the International Workers Day celebration in Abuja on May 1, NLC President Joe Ajaero argued that the government should not fix tariffs in a deregulated sector. TUC President Festus Osifo also criticized the hike, stating, “It is unethical to force Nigerians to pay higher tariffs for non-existent electricity. Estimated billing is an extortion and daylight robbery against Nigerians.”

Ultimatum and Reduction

Labour unions gave a one-week ultimatum for a tariff reversal, which expired yesterday. In a move to appease the unions, NERC ordered a downward review of the tariff from N225/kWh to N206.8/kWh, an 8.1% reduction, attributing the cut to the naira’s appreciation in the official foreign exchange window.

Mobilization for Protests

Ambali confirmed that the union had fully mobilized its members and affiliates for the protests. “Labour is fully mobilized for the electricity tariff hike protests across the country,” he said. Etim corroborated this, emphasizing that organized labour was ready for the nationwide protests at NERC offices.

A top NLC official, who spoke anonymously, stated, “Picketing would start today not only at the offices of the National Electricity Regulatory Commission but also in all the distribution companies across the nation.”

Civil Society Support

Civil society groups have endorsed the protests, with Dr. Jackson Omenazu of the International Society for Social Justice and Human Rights stating, “The NLC and the TUC have our backing 100 percent.” Auwalu Rafsanjani, Executive Director of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, added, “Any protest that is going to help Nigerian people to come out of the sufferings that Nigerian government policies have put the people, we will join.”

Okechukwu Nwanguma, Executive Director of the Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre, also supported the protests, insisting that the government should address the issues raised by organized labour.


The protests, supported by various civil society organizations, are set to begin today, aiming to compel the government to reverse the electricity tariff hike and address the broader issues of economic hardship faced by Nigerians.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button