Reps Criticize NLC and CSOs for Skipping Hearing on Electricity Tariff Hike

Reps Criticize NLC and CSOs for Skipping Hearing on Electricity Tariff Hike
Speaker Tajudeen Abbas

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Abbas Tajudeen, and the joint Committee on Power, National Planning and Economic Development, Commerce, and Delegated Legislations, on Tuesday criticized the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and several Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) for failing to attend a public hearing on the recent electricity tariff increase.

In response to widespread public outrage over the tariff hike, the House passed a resolution directing the joint Committee to investigate the reasons behind the increase. The hearing was scheduled for Tuesday, but only a few CSOs attended, and the organized labor was entirely absent.

Lead chairman of the panel and chairman of the Committee on Power, Hon. Victor Nwokolo, informed Speaker Tajudeen, represented by his Deputy, Hon. Benjamin Kalu, that despite multiple communications with the NLC, the labor leaders chose to attend an International Labour Organization (ILO) conference in Geneva instead.

Nwokolo recounted that the Committee had requested the NLC to submit a memorandum and send a representative to the hearing, which was ignored. “It is very disheartening that after communication between NLC and the Secretariat to explain that what we’re saying is; do your submission and let someone represent you, but no.

“But these are the same people who were quick to shut down the National Grid. We’re sure the Secretariat of the NLC and the TUC are not under locks and keys, so someone can represent them,” he said, explaining how the committee in a letter dated June 6, 2024, in reply to NLC’s of May 31, 2024, had insisted on the transmission of labor’s position through a memorandum.

Hon. Ishiaka Ayokunle also expressed his disappointment with the CSOs, noting that only three representatives were present. “Talk is cheap. To criticize is very cheap,” he said, adding that it was disappointing for them to snub the invitation to share their positions on such an important matter, preferring instead to voice their criticisms on social media.

Responding, the Speaker, represented by Kalu, condemned the labor leaders for choosing to be in Geneva rather than collaborating with the parliament. He stressed that while it is fair to criticize Executive policies, such criticism would be more credible if communicated through the people’s representatives.

Before declaring the event open, the Speaker acknowledged that the tariff hike “has not been well-received by our citizens. Numerous voices, including organized labor and industry experts, have voiced their strong opposition to this decision,” adding that the House convened the public hearing in light of this widespread disapproval.

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