ABUJA — Organized Labour yesterday shut down the headquarters of the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, the Transmission Company of Nigeria, TCN, and Abuja Electricity Distribution Company, AEDC, headquarters over the recent hike in electricity tariff.

Under the aegis of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and its Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, Organised Labour which demanded a reversal of the hike, also shut down state offices of electricity distribution companies, DisCos, across the country.

It noted that the privatization in the power sector was a ‘colossal failure ‘ and demanded a complete reversal of the exercise and recovery of all public electricity assets sold.

Recall that leaders of NLC and their TUC counterparts had on May 3, 2024, written to the Minister of Power, and the Chairman/CEO, of NERC, giving them the May 12 deadline to reverse the electricity tariff increase or face industrial unrest.
The picketing of NERC, TCN and the Ministry of Power was carried out by the NLC, and the TUC.

NERC had earlier announced a hike in electricity tariff across the nation for Band A customers from N65/kwh to N225/Kwh which attracted condemnation from many sections of the country, including Organized Labour.

The labour leaders had converged at the Central Business District Area, Abuja Labour House, as early as 7 am before proceeding to NERC headquarters, displaying various placards with inscriptions such as “increase regulatory oversight on DISCOs and GENCOs not tariff increase on poor and innocent Nigerians”, “let the poor breathe, give us affordable and constant power”, “N228 per kilowatt is killing, reverse it now,” “Electricity tariff increase, not acceptable,” “We are not a generator republic”, “We are not generator Republic,’’ and ‘’IMF, World Bank, leave Nigeria power sector alone,’’ among others.

‘Collosal failure’

Addressing journalists, Comrade Joe Ajaero said the privatisation of the power sector was a ‘colossal failure’, saying organised labour in Nigeria was demanding a complete reversal of the power sector privatisation and the recovery of all public electricity assets sold.

He said: “Workers are the hardest hit by the increase in electricity tariff. Unlike business people, wage-earning workers cannot adjust their income when the costs of utilities are increased.

“This stagnancy in wages amidst increases in the cost of electricity and refined petroleum products push workers over and beyond the limits of sanity and survival.

“Small and medium scale businesses which accommodate millions of workers in the informal economy are severely affected by increases in energy costs. Many such businesses are forced to shut down thud ballooning Nigeria’s unemployment market. The ancillary cost of crimes and social unrest is a daily living experience on our streets.

“Organised labour in Nigeria is forced to the conclusion that the privatisation of the power sector in Nigeria is a colossal failure.

‘Organised labour in Nigeria demands that the complete reversal of power sector privatisation and the recovery of all public electricity assets sold dirt cheap to largely inexperienced, technically deficit and financially challenged private investors.

“Nigerian workers reject the recent increase in electricity tariff and the associated upgrading and downgrading of customers from one band to another. It is our clear position that Nigeria, after more than sixty years of independence, cannot be rationing and rationalising darkness. This is unacceptable.

“We call on the government to respect the terms of the September 2021 Agreement with Labour which was reinforced by a 2023 agreement that the government must halt further increase in the tariff of public utilities until certain conditions are met, including the review of the privatisation exercise, de-dollarisation of gas supply for electricity generation, distribution of pre-paid meters to all electricity consumers in Nigeria, increase in electricity generation and distribution in Nigeria, with adequate commitment to investment in green and renewable energy sources and finally respect the rights of all electricity consumers in Nigeria?”

Workers asked to disconnect TCN, NERC’s offices

Delivering organised labour’s demands to the chairman of NERC, Sanusi Garba, Ajaero informed him that the National Union of Electricity Employees, NUEE, had been directed to order workers in the sector to cut off power supply to all the areas NERC and TCN offices are located across the country as part of workers’ protest against the hiked tariff.

“We are very serious about our demand that NERC and TCN reverse the recent tariff hike. The tariff is killing.

“It is killing businesses and Nigerians. And as part of our protest, we have asked electricity workers under our centres to cut off power supply in all NERC and TCN offices across the country. Please review the current tariff, it is not workers’ friendly, it is not acceptable,’’ he stated further.

Responding, the NERC chairman said the commission had taken input from their demands as it relates to the affordability of the tariff it issued, and commended labour for its peaceful demonstration in respect of issues affecting the power sector.
He said: “We have also listened to you and we have listened to the concerns of Nigerians.

“I want to assure you that we will make adequate representation on the policy side on the issue of affordability of tariffs.
“We also took note of your call for the diversification of energy sources and I would like to say that the new Zungeru 700 Megawatts power plant is already online, generating over 600MW.

“We are also making efforts to ramp up solar generation in such a manner that tariffs will come down. I also note your remarks about the banks sitting on the boards of the distribution companies.

‘’The commission had earlier given deadlines for the banks to divest their shares and exit from the distribution companies because we want proper core investors sitting on these boards.”

At the Ministry of Power office, the minister was not in the office, as he was said to have left to attend the Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.


In Lagos, the economic nerve centre of the country, labour leaders also crippled operations of Eko Electricity Distribution Company, EKDC, and Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company, IKEDC office at Marina and Alausa, respectively.

The picketing labour leaders in Lagos, led by Lagos State chairperson of NLC, Funmi Sessi, expressed the anger of residents of the state to the hike, lamenting that while Nigerians are suffering power outages and high tariff, despite living in a resource-rich nation, the country is supplying uninterrupted electricity to neighbouring nations.

She said: “We are selling ourselves short while our people suffer. We do not have enough to take care of ourselves. Electricity in Nigeria has become a breeding ground for corruption. It is high time we united our voices and said enough is enough. The wealthy must bear the burden of the poor, and we must be allowed to breathe.”

Sessi called on the Federal Government to reverse the hike and abolish Band A and Z rates which had imposed additional financial burdens on Nigerians.


Similarly, in Akure, the Ondo State capital, leaders of the NLC and TUC shutdown the state headquarters of Benin Electricity Distribution Company, BEDC, located at NEPA area of Akure.

The protesters blocked the main gate of the company and prevented staff from gaining entrance to the premises, while demanding a reversal of the tariff hike.

The state chairman of NLC, Victor Amoko, while addressing newsmen, described the hike in electricity tariff as unjustifiable, and lamented the untold economic hardship the hike had inflicted on the citizenry.

He said: “We say no to increment in tariff. Before now, we don’t have adequate electricity supply, despite paying hug amount of money. In Akure, for instance, for good four days, we won’t have electricity supply and they keep increasing the tariff. We are saying enough is enough.

Also speaking, the state chairman of TUC, Clement Fatuase, called on President Bola Tinubu to stop various harsh economic policies his administration had been introducing in the last one year.

Fatuase said the BEDC and other DisCos offices would remain shut until the government reversed the new tariff


Also in Ogun State, labour leaders crippled operations of the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company, IEDC, office at Leme, Imo Abeokuta, as well as NERC, Ibara GRA, Abeokuta.

Led by leaders of NLC and TUC in the state, the protesters blocked the entrance of the two offices and crippled their operations

TUC chairman in the state, Akeem Lasisi, said: “We all woke up on the 3rd day of April to hear the insulting increase of electricity tariff to N225 kilowatt/hour without consulting the major stakeholders in the power sector.

“As workers, we are totally against this because our salary remains stagnant, the exchange rate, school fees, house rent, food items transport fare, etc are all on the increase while our salary is begging for an upward review.’’

On his part, state chairman of NLC, Ademola Hammed-Benco, said: “We are here to express the displeasure of Nigerians on the purported hike in electricity tariff and we have been directed by the national leadership of TUC and NLC to seal all the NERC officers and that of the DISCOs across the state and that is what we are doing.

“We have already accomplished that of IBEDC in Leme because I must confess to you the price hike is anti-human and it is unfriendly to labour.


In Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, labour leaders, led by the state chairman of NLC, Kayode Martins, and the Vice Chairman of TUC, Ranti Oluwawemimo, stormed the IEDC at 9 am and disrupted its operations

Martins said: “We’re here to show our grievances. We are suffering. As we are crying of pains, the government is compounding our pains by introduction of taxes and removal of electricity subsidy. Please, what is left for us in this country?

“Someone fell and had his hands, and legs dislocated; lost his legs and his head badly injured. Yet, you’re still asking if health is okay when he has lost almost everything.

‘’We are afraid and we don’t have anyone abroad to run to. You now enslaved us. They have hijacked democracy and we are suffering. We are hungry, that’s why we are protesting”.

TUC vice chairman in the state, Oluwawemimo, said: “They have driven us to the wall and there’s nothing left for us than to turn back and face us. They are making life difficult for us. ‘’They have almost snuffed life out of us. In a saner clime, if they want to remove subsidy on anything, their government will first put some measures in place to cushion the effects but in Nigeria, it is not so.”


Also, in Osogbo, Osun State capital, the state chairman of NLC and its TUC’s counterpart, Christopher Arapasopo, and Abimbola Fasasi, led the protesters to the various offices of IBEDC, including the business hub in Osogbo and crippled their operations.

They displayed placards with several inscriptions, such as “NERC & All Discos must respect workers’ right”, “Nigeria Say no to increase in Electricity Tariff”, and “Reverse Draconian Decision” among others.

NLC chairman in Osun State said the “position of labour is that the recent increase in electricity tariff by NERC should be reversed.”

His counterpart in TUC, explained that the protest was to make a statement and let the federal government know that the electricity tariff increment was unacceptable to Nigerians.

According to him, the government has to develop and improve on electricity generation and supply.


Similarly in Ilorin, members of NLC and TUC, crippled the operations of NERC and IBEDC, demanding the reversal of the electricity tariff hike

Among the IBEDC offices crippled by the protesters included Challenge, Babo-Oko and Ita-Alamu Amareas all within the Ilorin metropolis.

The chairman of NLC , Murtala Olayinka and his TUC counterpart, Olayinka Onikijipa, who led the protest, maintained that the masses could no longer breath as a result of the outrageous hike in electricity tariff across the country .

They condemned the perceived attitude of the NERC and IBEDC for not reversing the hike in electricity tariff for teeming Nigerians and called on the federal government to compel the NERC to reverse the hike.


Also in Kaduna, members of NLC and TUC, picketed the Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company, KEDC, demanding reversal of the hike in electricity tariff.

They were led by Kaduna NLC and TUC chairmen, Ayuba Suleiman and Alhassan Danfulani, respectively.
They said: “The privatised distribution sub-sector has done nothing but cheat Nigerians and make a profit at the detriment of underserved citizens.”

According to Suleiman, “we have achieved the purpose of this picketing because we want to go and get ready. We might receive yet another instruction from our national officers either to continue tomorrow or to stop.

‘’We want to make it clear that NLC, TUC or rather the organized labour are saying capital no to the hike in electricity tariff.

“NLC and TUC are saying a capital no to segregation in the rendering of services of electricity in Nigeria. We see no reason somebody will be enjoying 20 hours of supply while others are taking like 10 hours.

‘’We want to inform the world and Nigeria that privatization has failed because we are paying for darkness.”

Danfulani said “The increased tariff on electricity is unfortunate when Nigerians are yet to come to terms with the current reality, following the subsidy removal by the federal government.”


In Kano, leaders of NLC and TUC crippled the headquarters of the NERC and Kano Electricity Distribution Company, KEDCO, over the increment in electricity tariffs.

The Vice Chairman of the NLC in Kano, Awwalu Yakasai, who led the picketing, said: “We are not doing this for ourselves but for Nigerians because Nigerians are crying and not happy over the increment when there is even no stable power supply.
‘’The increment was wrong. We demand a reversal of the increase otherwise we will take action. The first action is the picketing of NERC and KEDCO but the next action will be worse than this.”

His counterpart, the TUC Chairman in Kano, Mubarak Buba Yerima, said: “We have picketed the headquarters of NERC and Discos. We are hoping for a good feedback from our national body. Once they give us directives that negotiation has started, we will halt the decision but if not we will continue and move to the next stage,”


In Makurdi, the Benue State capital, the state offices of Jos Electricity Distribution Company, JEDC, were shut down by workers protesting the hike in electricity tariff .

NLC state chairman, Terungwa Igbe, who led the union officials and members to JEDC offices in the state, locked up the offices after directing the staff of the company to vacate their premises.

Igbe said the action was in compliance with the national directive of the union over the hardship faced by Nigerians due to the increase in electricity tariff..

The chairman said: “We went to all JEDC offices today and closed them down. We locked up all the offices and addressed the workers. It is a national directive. The message was that the hike in tarrif should be reversed.”

He stated that the offices would remain closed for now, pending the directive from the national body.


Also in Jos, the Plateau State capital, NLC and TUC members crippled the operations of JEDC along the Ahmadu Bello Way, the Murtala Mohammed Way, all offices of the company in Jos and NERC office at the Rayfield area of the city.

The state chairman of the NLC, Eugene Mangji, said: “The directive to shut down these places came from our national secretariat, the masses are suffering. We have been here since morning and will continue to be here for the day.

“We picketed the places as early as possible, so when their staff came, they could not have access. We are taking directives from our national headquarters, we mobilized members to monitor the offices, and NERC at Rayfield, and members are going around to check compliance. The right thing has to be done.”


Similarly, the offices of NERC, TCN and JEDC in Bauchi were crippled by members of NLC and TUC.

The leadership and members of the two bodies had converged on the entrance of the main office of the JEDC where they blocked the gate and prevented staff and other visitors entrance into the building.

The NLC and TUC enforcement further moved to the NERC and TCN offices in different locations within Bauchi metropolis to ensure that they were also closed.

During the protest, members of NLC and TUC displayed placards with various inscriptions.

Addressing their members, Bauchi State NLC chairperson, Dauda Shuaibu, said: “The joint NEC of the NLC and TUC wrote the same letter to them to reverse the tariff and we issued a letter of which we are expecting them to reverse the tariff.

‘’Their failure to reverse it is the result of what we are implementing here this morning and across the nation.

“We have received reliable information that the JEDC office in Yelwa is selling units and making remittances, we are going there to stop that. We will ensure the entire offices are shut down, no operations.


In Ebonyi, members of NLC and TUC crippled the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company, EEDC, NERC offices in the state.
They were led by the NLC chairman Ogugua Egwu, and his TUC counterpart, Chidi Igboji.

They visited the NERC office at Nsugbe street, EEDC offices at Awolowo street and Town Planning Road beside Abakaliki Correctional Centre.

They chanted solidarity songs to express their displeasure over the hike in electricity tariff as they were seen with placards bearing different inscriptions.

NLC chairman, Egwu said: “We are here to tell the world that their heartlessness, recklessness and wickedness against ordinary Nigerians must be stopped.

“We are here to say that the recent tariff increase for Band A from N65 to over N225, representing 340 per cent increase, must be reversed.”

TUC chairman, Chidi Igboji, said the increase would lead to continued impoverishment of the poor masses in the country.
“This increase is evil because it is meant to ensure that the poor masses will continue to be poor and we the organised labor in Ebonyi State are saying no to this increase. What we are saying is that EEDC and NERC should let the poor breathe.”


In Owerri, the Imo state chapter, members of NLC and their TUC counterparts, shut down the office of the EEDC and NERC.

Addressing newsmen in Owerri, the NLC chairman, Uche Chigamezu Nwigwe, said: “For over one month now, EEDC and regulatory bodies have thrown Imo residents, especially workers, into untold hardship with the exorbitant bill they bring that they did not consume.

‘’Our national secretariat has given us directives to picket all the offices of NERC, Discos and EEDC in the state, starting from today (yesterday)

“Since the 3rd of April when the Federal Government increased the Electricity tariff to over 200 per cent, the distribution bodies have turned Imo workers to the milking cow. For us, the increase in tariff is fraud and criminal because they are paying more now with no lights to show for it.”

On his part, TUC chairman, Charles Amalu, was of the view that; “The consumption of Imo State is 120 megawatts but we regret that DisCos is providing between 12 and 15 megawatts. I want to ask this question, how can we have lights with the shortage of provision of megawatts?


Also in Bayelsa State, members of NLC and TUC shut down the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company, PHEDC, and demanded the reversal of the tariff hike.

The state NLC chairman, Simon Barnabas, described the hike as unacceptable the tariff especially with the epileptic power supply in the state, saying “Our action today is a way to inform the government that the hike in tariff is unacceptable by us. Of course, our national centres of NLC and TUC gave the directive that we should have a joint action here in Bayelsa State to express the unacceptability of this policy.

“We are calling on the authority to have immediate reverse and of course, passing information to our people that labour leadership is concerned about their well-being and welfare.

“We are hoping that there will be a change of mind on the part of the government after this action. But where there is none, we have no option but to apply confrontation. The issue of epileptic power supply must be addressed, Nigerians should have constant power supply.”

Also speaking, the Chairman of TUC, Julius Laye, said: “We are very hopeful that we have a government that is sensitive and will yield to our demands, and know the feeling of Nigerians that another tax is not the best way to go on Nigerians who are already suffering.’’


In Asaba, members of the NLC and TUC picketed the office of the Benin Electricity Distribution Company, BEDC, in Asaba, Delta State and demanded the reversal of the hike in electricity tariff.

The office of the distribution company along Anwai Road in the state capital was under lock as the protesters completely disrupted the business activities of the company.

Similarly, visitors were denied entry into the premises of the company.

Chairman of the Trade Union Congress, Mr Bolum Nwachukwu, who led protest said the increase in the electricity tariff negated any form of due process and called on the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, to reverse.
He noted Nigerians were already paying for electricity that they do not enjoy, emphasizing that there was no moral justification for any increase.

Speaking Chairman of the state NLC, Goodluck Ofobruku said “We are against it (hike in the tariff) the government cannot continue to impoverish the people. When they need money to satisfy their needs as politicians, they increase the burden on the people.

“We have shut down all BEDC and NERC offices in Delta, that is the offices in Asaba, Warri, Agbor, Sapele, Abraka and so on. As at yesterday, we were fully mobilised”


Similarly, NLC and TUC members picketed the five offices of PHEDC and the state office of the NERC and demanded the reversal of the hike.

Also picketed by the NLC team led by the state Chairman, e Sunny James, were the power sub-station at Edet Akpan Avenue (Four Lanes), power stations at Itam in the neighbouring Itu local government area and Eket LGA, respectively.

Speaking, James, said among others, “Government should do away with all unwholesome practices in the power sector including estimated billings, It should provide steady electricity with metres across all homes, amongst others before thinking of a new tariff regime.”

We’ll go back to the drawing board, FG tells Labour

Reacting to the protests yesterday, the federal government said it would go back to the drawing board with relevant stakeholders to address the issue of the electricity tariff hike.

Mamudah Mamman, permanent secretary in the federal ministry of power, stated this in Abuja yesterday while addressing members of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC.

Mamman said members of the National Assembly had told the ministry to do a wide consultation with relevant stakeholders on the matter.

The permanent secretary assured that the ministry would sit down next week with the leadership of the NLC to see how the issues could be resolved.

“The National Assembly had written the ministry to go and do a wide consultation with all the relevant stakeholders.
“What the ministry does is give policy directions. We realise that the policy direction given is pushing Nigerians to the corner, and we need to do things differently.

“What we need to do is for all of us to come to the table, look at it, and decide what is the best way. I don’t have the power to reverse the tariff, so we will go back to the drawing board with the regulator and NLC.

“I’m going to take your message to the relevant authority, and we will look at it and inform you,’’ he said.