AFTER an over six (6) hour deliberation with the Federal Government, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) have agreed to suspend the strike scheduled to commence today (Monday) after agreement was reached to suspend the application of the cost-reflective electricity tariff adjustments for two weeks.
Government and organized labour entered into negotiations which commenced at 8.30pm on Sunday and ended at 2:50am Monday morning.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, read the five-page communique signed by NLC President, Ayuba Wabba; and his Trade Union Congress counterpart, Quadri Olaleye on behalf of Organised Labour while the Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige; Minister of State Petroleum, Timipre Silva; Minister of State Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo (SAN); Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed; and the Secretary to Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, signed on behalf of the government.
According to the document, all parties agreed to set up a technical committee comprising Ministries, Departments, Agencies, NLC and TUC which would work for duration of two weeks effective September 28, to examine the justifications for the new policy.
The members of the committee include the Minister of State Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo (SAN) as Chairman; Minister of State Power, Godwin Jedy-Agba; Chairman, National Electricity Regulatory Commission, James Momoh; Special Assistant to the President on Infrastructure, Ahmad Zakari as the Secretary.
Other members are Onoho’Omhen Ebhohimhen, Joe Ajaero (NLC), Chris Okonkwo (TUC) and a representative of electricity distribution companies.
The committee will examine the justification for the new policy on cost-reflective electricity tariff adjustments; to look at the different DISCOs and their different electricity tariff vis-à-vis NERC order and mandate; examine and advise government on the issues that have hindered the deployment of the 6 million meters, among others.
“in view of the need for the validation of the basis for the new cost-reflective tariff as a result of the conflicting information from the fields which appeared different from the data presented to justify the new policy by NERC; metering deployment, challenges, timeline for massive rollout.”
“During the two weeks, the DISCOs shall suspend the application of the cost-reflective electricity tariff adjustments,” the communique noted.
Federal government is also laying down ground works to provide buffers that would reduce the sufferings that Nigerian workers may experience as a result of the hike in cost electricity tariffs and the deregulation of the downstream sector of the petroleum industry.
These buffers will be in the areas of transport, power, housing, agriculture and humanitarian support.
The meeting resolved that the FG will facilitate the removal of tax on minimum wage as a way of cushioning the impacts of the policy on the lowest vulnerable.
Also to cushion the impacts of the downstream sector deregulation and tariffs adjustment in the power sector, the FG agreed to announce in two weeks a specific amount to be accessed by workers with subsequent provision for 240,000 under the auspices of NLC and TUC for participation in agricultural ventures through the Central Bank and the Ministry of Agriculture.
The meeting also resolved that as a matter of urgency, the country needed to increase local refining capacity to reduce dependence on other countries and loss of capital with the rehabilitation of Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna refinery.
“All parties agreed on the urgency for increasing the local refining capacity of the nation to reduce the over dependency on importation of petroleum products to ensure energy security, reduce cost of finished products, increase employment and business opportunities for Nigerians.”
“To address this, the parties resolved that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation should expedite the rehabilitation of the nation’s four refineries located in Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna to achieve 50 per cent completion by December 2021, while timelines and delivery for Warri and Kaduna will be established by the inclusive steering committee.
“To ensure commitment and transparency to the processes and timelines of the rehabilitation exercise, the management of NNPC has offered to integrate the national leadership of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers and Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association into the steering committee already established by the corporation,” the communique stated.
It also said that post-rehabilitation, NNPC shall involve the PENGASSAN and NUPENG in the process of establishing the operational model of the nation’s refineries.
The statement added, “The Federal Government will facilitate the delivery of licensed modular and regular refineries, involvement of upstream companies in petroleum refining and establishing framework for financing in the downstream sector.
“NNPC to expedite work on the Build, Operate and Transfer framework for the nation’s pipelines and strategic depots network for efficient transportation and distribution of petroleum products to match the delivery timelines of the refineries as agreed.”