From Benjamin Babine, Abuja
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) says the Federal Government’s promise to compel DISCOs to mass deploy meters to electricity consumers has been poorly pursued because meters are still hoarded by DISCOs and sold at high rates.
At its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting on Wednesday, the NLC president, Com. Ayuba Wabba said the major factors behind the electricity tariff hikes are a combination of pressure from neo-liberal global market forces, poor policy choices, dereliction of duties by the power sector regulator and investors and general inefficiencies in the system.
He said it has huge and dire implications for productivity, employment and stability in the economy. Speaking on continual hike in fuel prices, he stressed that it is as a result of the failure of successive governments and also this current government to revamp domestic refineries.
Wabba went on to explain that the insistence of government on using the Import Parity Prices to calculate the landing cost of petrol and other refined petroleum products is making the situation even worse.
“As earlier submitted, the prices of crude oil in the international market which should be an advantage for Nigeria has become a major disadvantage as government insists that workers and citizens must pay higher for imported refined petroleum products and pay dearly for electricity services consumed in the country,” he said.
Speaking about ethnic clashes in different parts of the country, the Congress said the union cannot fold its hands and watch Nigerians engage themselves in ethnoreligious squabbles, stressing that the dangers are too significant to ignore.
He said: “We call for a new verve of zeal and commitment in the war against terrorism, banditry, kidnapping, communal unrests and clashes. We must never get to that point where we surrender the initiative and paraphernalia of sovereignty to autonomous state actors and to forces of state capture.”
On the National Minimum Wage, Wabba said there are still some states that are yet to implement the national minimum wage of N30,000.
He said, “Do we need to make this point again and again that the National Minimum Wage is an Act of the Parliament and so is binding on all employers in Nigeria who are so categorized by the number of workers in their employment to pay the national minimum wage?
“Unfortunately, the worse violators of the national minimum wage law are employers in the public sector especially State Governors. There is no begging anyone to comply with the provisions of the law. Perhaps, a very pragmatic way to deal with this would be to provide special penalties against public sector employers who violate the national minimum wage law. We should also consider the use of the court of law to assert the sovereignty of our laws and compliance to same.”