Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM

ELECTRICITY CRISIS: Discos Offer No Respite For Power Consumers

ELECTRICITY CRISIS: Discos Offer No Respite For Power Consumers

  • Scandalous Efforts to Frustrate Victorious Court Judgment Against Tariff Hike Must be Resisted by Mass Actions
By Ayo Ademiluyi

Despite the landmark judgment delivered by Justice Muhammed Idris of the Federal High Court, sitting in Lagos nullifying the electricity tariff hike unjustly and illegally imposed by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and the electricity distribution companies, the generality of power consumers have been offered no respite by the distribution companies. The major assignment the Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED) has conferred on itself is to launch daily full-page advertorials against the judgment of the court nullifying the electricity tariff hike with acerbic attacks on the person of Justice Muhammed Idris, who they labeled as “rolling back the wheel of progress” in the power sector.

The major question that lies in the mouths of many is what substantial progress has been made by the distribution companies since the regime of the privatization of the power sector has been put in place? For the current year 2016 only, many working class homes have suffered longer power outages than any other year prior to power privatization. The latest effort of the power distribution companies to frustrate the judgment against electricity tariff hike is planned mass disconnection of power consumers.

For instance, the Ikeja Electric Distribution Company (IKEDISCO) has announced that it would embark on mass disconnection of power consumers who refuse to pay the illegal electricity tariff. This must be resisted by all forces who have been engaged in struggle in the communities against the imposition of the illegal electricity tariff.

The major propaganda of the power distribution companies is that the power generation has not supplied sufficient level of megawatts, but also the distribution companies have also failed abysmally to distribute generated/transmitted electricity because of inadequate power facilities. This has led to a situation where the power generation companies have also responded with flurry of propaganda that the attack of militants on pipelines has led to disruptions of power generation. In 2016, power generation has dropped to ridiculous levels with many incidents of zero-megawatt power generation level.

From all indications, the privatization has failed woefully considering selling to private interest at rock bottom price and also the bailout of N213 billion given to the power companies. Just like Oliver Twist, the power companies are about to get another assistance from the federal government guaranteed bonds worth N309 billion. Despite these supports with public funds, it is clear that the prioritization of profit above quality service delivery and overall interest of the country has deepened the crisis in the power sector.

What is needed to be done is for community activists, working class activists and youth activists that have waged a relentless struggle against the imposition of illegal electricity tariff hike to step up the struggle by preparing to resist the attempt to frustrate the judgment nullifying the illegal electricity tariff hike. The DISCOs and NERC have filed an appeal against the judgment. There must be a renewed mass mobilization in communities as the lawyers fighting against the tariff hike respond to the appeal at soon-to-be-fixed date at the Court of Appeal.

The struggle must also be linked to the struggle for a genuine pro-working people’s socio-economic alternative as opposed to the profit-first power privatization regime wherein the power sector chain(generation, transmission and distribution) will be renationalised and democratically managed by the mass of democratically-elected representatives of electricity workers, power consumers’ associations, community representatives and technical experts with the aim of exploring all resources of nature to guarantee regular power supply. This can only be realized by bringing into power a working people’s government resting on a socialist program

The labour movement must play its role in this process by fortifying the mass resistance against the attacks on the electricity sector by calling a conference of community movements, power consumers’ associations and youth movements that have built struggles in their respective areas to discuss the next steps in the struggle. This must also be linked with the need for labour movement to provide a lead for the building of a new fighting mass working people’s party rooted in the trade unions, communities and youth movements armed with a clear programme calling for democratic ownership of the commanding heights of the economy including the power sector by workers and youth.