SPN CALLS FOR A TOTAL CANCELLATION OF ELECTRICITY TARIFF HIKE AND REJECTS HIKE IN THE PRICE OF FUEL AND OTHER UTILITIES
NLC, TUC and ULC should unite to declare a 24-hour Nationwide Strike and street protests to resist the hike in Electricity Tariff and Petrol Price
The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN) demands a total cancellation of the suspended hike in the electricity tariff and rejects the hike in the price of petrol while demands an immediate reversal.
The implementation of the over 60% hike in the electricity tariff imposed by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and the Buhari-led federal government, which was initially scheduled to take off by April 1st, 2020 and later suspended, has once again been suspended till 2021 against the previous July 1st, 2020 date. The SPN holds that the hike in the tariff in the first instance lacks any justification whether or not the implementation commences now or in the later years.
Since the privatization of the power sector in 2013, the electricity tariff has been increased in no fewer than three different times without any meaningful improvement. Rather the supply and accessibility to electricity particularly among the working people have gone from bad to worse. Besides, most of the fundamental responsibilities like free supply of prepaid meters, transformers, aluminum conductors, including their installations and repairs, which are meant to be shouldered by the Electricity Distribution Companies (DISCO) have not only been abdicated but transferred to the poor consumers and their communities. This is quite unfortunate!
Since 2005, over $20 billion has been invested in the power sector. This amount excludes about N1.7 trillion and $750million (N290 billion) World Bank loan for “Power Sector Recovery Operation” taken by the federal government within the three years of the privatisation exercise. If these huge funds were to be utilized judiciously and had been invested considerably by the DISCOS and GENCOS (who are really private sectors profiteers), the electricity tariff would have been affordable and much lower while free provision of power facilities/infrastructure and drastic improvement in efficiency, including the supply of electricity, would have been guaranteed and sustained.
However, the painful reality is that a chunk of these public funds has been looted and mismanaged. It is in light of this that we hold that the privatisation of the power sector is a ruse and only meant to make a few privileged people super richer at the expense of consumers without any plan to sustainably develop the sector, and this is what is playing out graphically.
Therefore, regardless of whenever the implementation of the new 60% hike in electricity tariff commences, the reality is that the hike in both this tariff and fuel pump price from N123 to about N143 per litre will no doubt increase the rising cost of living, as well as compounding the economic disruption occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic on the lives of the working masses.
As a result of the lockdown imposed on the working people across the country without provision of meaningful palliatives, financial support or aids, already over 10,000 workers have been sacked while many have had their salaries cut. Given this situation we of the SPN would have expected the government to reduce the electricity tariff and pump price of petrol to cushion the effect of the hard-bitten economic crises.
It is in the light of this we demand the reversal of the hike in the electricity tariff and pump price of petrol, of privatization of the power sector and deregulation of the downstream oil sector. We equally demand the nationalization of power and oil sectors alongside other major sectors of the economy under democratic management and control of workers and consumers.
SPN equally welcomes the rejection of the hike in electricity tariffs and pump price of petrol by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC). But beyond just a rejection of the hike on the pages of newspapers there is the need for the NLC, TUC and ULC to come into a principled agreement and declare a specific day for a 24-hour nationwide strike and protest as a first step to force Buhari government to reverse the hike and end all forms of anti-labour and anti-poor policies.
We also hold that this kind of action must be used as a basis to kick start a discussion and process for the formation of a pan-Nigeria mass working people political party through which the working people can rescue political power from the hands of the current set of parasitic pro-capitalist elites presiding over the affair of the country and begin to use the enormous human and natural resources at the disposal of the country to reconstruct the country in the interest of workers and the poor.
Acting National Chairperson