MSA CONDEMNS NEW TARIFF REGIME IMPOSED BY THE NIGERIAN GOVERNMENT AND DISCOs
- WE CALL ON THE LABOUR MOVEMENT TO DECLARE A DAY OF GENERAL STRIKE AND ACTION AGAINST ALL OPPRESSIVE POLICIES
- WE DEMAND RENATIONALISATION OF THE POWER SECTOR UNDER DEMOCRATIC WORKERS’ CONTROL
The Movement for a Socialist Alternative (MSA) condemns in the strongest of terms the recent increase in electricity tariff nationwide. We demand that these moves are reversed immediately!
On the 26th of August, the NERC, the government’s agency regulating the billionaire-owners of the DISCOs and GENCOs, had issued a statement encouraging the DISCOs (Electricity Distribution Companies) to increase tariffs based on frivolous conditions the DISCOs can never meet, given their record of exploitation and consistent failures. The NERC had in this statement given the DISCOs the go-ahead to increase tariff if they will increase the hours of electricity supply and not extend the increased tariff to the poor.
The MSA holds that these conditions are not expressed in sincere sympathy for the poor, or as an acknowledgment of their concerns for a more efficient supply of electricity. To ask the DISCOs to exclude the poor from the increased tariff is just as good as advising a leopard in the wild to prey only on fat animals. A bulk of the DISCO’s profits is derived from their mindless exploitation of the poor, who are subjected to estimated billings and refused their rights to meters, just so this anarchistic exploitation may reign at liberty. If a vast majority of Nigerian homes, poor peoples’ home to be certain, remained unmetered on the eve of this extortionate tariff hike, then, we hold that it is absurd to bear any hope of the exclusion of the poor and working people of this country from the waiting paws of the DISCOs billionaires.
These moves are attacks on the poor and working masses, pure and simple. It is yet another evidence to show the Buhari regime is unconcerned with the plights of the struggling masses of this country than it is ready to defend the profit interests of billionaires, who have bought almost all Nigeria’s public corporations.
Meanwhile, the DISCOs’ association has announced the commencement of a new electricity tariff beginning from Tuesday, September 1. The Abuja DISCOs, however, began implementing a new tariff since Monday, August 31. This was not done without rehashing the readiness of the DISCOs to increase supply hours and be ‘merciful’ to the poor.
The people should not for once be deceived that the profit-seeking managements of the DISCOs are out for their interest or about turning a new leaf. We frown at the organized deception preceding this tariff hike and point at it to show that more profits rather than improved service are at the root of this increment. Nigerians should recall that the Presidency had postponed indefinitely the plan to increase tariff some months ago, just so Nigerians do not react to the hike when it was coming at the same time with an increase in fuel pump price and stamp duties.
We welcome in the MSA the statement by the leadership of the NLC, which roundly condemned this latest tariff as a burden on Nigeria’s poor and working people. The NLC has strongly warned of its intention to protest the tariff with the full force of Nigeria’s workers if and when it is implemented. We wish to state that no illusion should be borne by the leaders of the NLC and TUC of the neutrality of the Presidency or the legislature in this latest attack on a people struggling to make ends meet in a Covid-19 economy. Instead, the leadership of the labor movement should begin mobilization and sensitization of its membership to resist this increment, and demand for its immediate reversal.
We hold that the privatization of the power sector has left the state of electricity worst off in the country, as owners continue to place accumulation over the powering of industries and small businesses of average Nigerians. Yet, the Buhari government has stated repeatedly that it will not reverse the privatization policy while consolidating the neo-liberal policy it represents, thereby making life harder and harsher for the Nigerian people. We hold that only massive public investment in the power sector combined with the nationalization of the sector and other commanding heights of the economy under the democratic management of the working people can guarantee affordable and uninterrupted electricity and facilitate the country’s much-needed industrialization.
We call on all the various activist-groups in the communities that are active in the campaign against the exploitation reigning in the power sector to unite into a common platform of action, to provide coordinated leadership to the emerging struggle against an increase in electricity tariff. We call on the NLC, TUC, ASCAB, civil society platforms, and all pro-working peoples’ organizations, like JAF, to call a day general strike and a national day of action to resist this electricity tariff and other oppressive policies, which the Buhari’s regime has continued to flay the working masses with.