Members of the organized labor union in Ondo State, on Monday, shut down all offices of the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) located in Akure, the capital city, in protest of a 45% increase in the electricity tariff.
The labor union members, who were joined by their leaders, angrily chased out all of the employees of the electricity company. The protest paralyzed the business activities in the entire area.
A SaharaReporters correspondent witnessed the organized labor leaders, who were joined by civil society groups, members of the landlord association, human right activists, and unionists shut down the popular NEPA road in Akure and picketed the Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).
Our correspondent also reported that the protesters were acting under an instruction of their national leaders as part of a “nationwide protest” intended to halt business activities at all BEDC offices in the country.
The protesters were armed with placards bearing different inscriptions as they chanted solidarity songs and hurled abuses at the management of the BEDC and its employees.
Some of the placards inscriptions read: “45% Electricity Tariff Increase, An Exploitation Of Highest Order”, “Electricity Is A Social Services And Not To Be Commercialized”, “Privatization Of Electricity Is To Rip Off Electricity Consumers”, and “No Meter, No Payment”.
Many of the protestors decried the outrageous increase in the electricity bill noting that there was no significant improvement in the service delivery to the consumers by the BEDC.
Bosede Daramola, the Ondo State Chairperson of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), stated that there had been no improvement since the privatization of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) to the BEDC and added that the 45 percent increase in the electricity tariff would further harm the economic recession facing most Nigerians.
Mrs. Daramola bemoaned the fact that most electricity consumers are not metered in line with the signed privatization memorandum of understanding (MoU) of November 1, 2013. This MoU stipulated that within an 18-month gestation period, all consumers should be been metered.
She noted that the failure to fulfill this agreement was a contravention in the due process laid out by in section 76 of the Power Sector Reform.
“Nobody in this country [Nigeria] enjoys electricity supply and this is a cheat on the masses by placing them on estimation and literally paying for what they didn’t consume.
“In Akure, there is no area that enjoys electricity for five hours, and where you have it is epileptic.
“We are paying for a privatization to deprived Nigerians of the service that ordinarily should be made available to them,” Mrs. Daramola said.
Sola Ekundayo, Ondo State Chairman of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), said the Federal Government (FG) has failed in its responsibilities and ought to have put the plight of Nigerians at heart before making the unilateral decision of increasing the electricity tariff.
Mr. Ekundayo averred that the 45 percent increment was an action to punish the downtrodden most especially the artisans and improvised workers in the country.
“There is a subsisting court order dated May 28, 2015, by Justice Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court Ikoyi, Lagos in the case of the activist Toluwani Yemi Adebiyi versus NERC. This order stopping any indiscriminate increase in Electricity Tariff”, he said.
As at the time of filing this report, the protesting organized labor leaders were still at the premises of the BEDC headquarters in Akure demanding to see the management of the company or risk the wrath of the workers.