The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) in collaboration with civil society groups made good their threat of picketing offices of the electricity distribution and generating company (DISCOs) and GENCOs) across the nation, as operations in their offices were grounded following the exercise.
Also affected, were the offices of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) as labour unions protested the 45 per cent hike in electricity tariff, announced by the Federal Government.
The new tariff regime began on Monday, 1st February, 2016
Consequently, offices of the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHED) across the four states of Rivers, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom and Cross River were also besieged by protesters.
At the Mosco Road, the zonal office of PHED, the Rivers State Chairman of TUC, Mr Chika Onuegbu, decried the new tariff, saying the people would no longer watch the government inflict pains on them through the exploitative tariff.
He lamented that the Federal Government has failed to save the masses from the crunchy economic situation, and wondered why the masses would be made to pay through their nose for poor supply that is epileptic.
Onuegbu accused the DISCOs of also failing in their contractual bond of providing prepaid meters which were promised the consumers when the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) was being privatised.
On her part, the l Chairman of NLC in the state, Mrs Beatrice Itubo, said the protest over electricity tariff hike would continue until the Federal Government rescinds its step and removes the new tariff.
At the D/Line office of the Diobu Business Centre of PHED, Chief Amadi Ihedioha, a businessman said , ‘the protest has provided the ordinary Nigerians opportunity of openly expressing their rejection of the exploitative tendencies of the company.
“I thank the organised labour for what they have done today, I thought nobody can be there for us when PHED treat us any how it likes, chooses when to supply light, and not even the government caring to know what we are passing through’, he said.
In his reaction, the Corporate Affair Manager of PHED, Mr Jonah Ibomah, In defence of the new tariff, said the power sector had been neglected over the past five years, and stressed the need for more investment in the sector.
He said, contrary to the claim that the recent increase in electricity tariff was up to 45 per cent, the hike was merely between 12 and 21 per cent.
In Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, the organised labour also besieged the PHED offices, chanting solidarity songs with green leaves in their hands.
State chairman of the TUC, Mr Akamabo Awah, said there was no reason or rationale for the hike when there is a pending court order restraining NERC or any of the DISCOS from increasing tariff.
He said the protest was a way of defending the law and the interest of the masses from the electricity companies who have taken up Nigerians hostage.
Meanwhile, NERC Acting Chief Executive Officer, Dr Anthony Akah, blamed the organised labour for the protest, saying, NLC should have utilised the window of complaints provided by the commission or such matters instead of resorting to street protests.
Akah regretted that the sector, which is expected to attract foreign investment, may suffer sect back from the signal of the protest.
“We feel strongly that NLC or other organisations would have taken advantage of the window and file for the area of concern just like some other organisations have filed for their own areas of concern”, he said.
The Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, in reacting to the development, said the House was reviewing the positions of stakeholders on the new tariff, and would make its position known to Nigerians next week.
NCWS Hails RSG’s Steps Against Illegal Refining
The President of the Rivers State Branch of the National Council of Women Societies (NCWS), Princess Mariam Tolofari, has commended the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, for taking decisive steps against illegal oil refining, air pollution and environmental degradation in the state.
Speaking to journalists in Port Harcourt, state president of NCWS maintained that Wike’s physical visit to some sites of the illegal refineries, mandating and supporting the state security agencies, local government chairmen and chiefs to swiftly end illegal refining has significantly reduced the menace of soot and its attendant environmental degradation and health hazard in the state.
Tolofari said that the governor’s resolve to end the soot in the state was heroic and valiant, while also backing the governor’s call on the Federal Government to respond to the issues giving rise to the soot epidemic in the state.
“We appreciate the governor for taking the bold initiative against operators of illegal refineries and the hydra-headed monster of black soot in Rivers State. We pledge to sustain and support a Green State that is healthy and beneficial to us all”, she said.
She further urged women to restrain their children and wards from joining persons engaged in ‘Kpo fire’ activities and ensure they stay focused in the pursuit of academic excellence and genuine business goals not associated to crime.
By: Nelson Chukwudi
Join War Against ‘Kpo Fire’, Monarchs Tell Rivers People
Some traditional rulers in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area have called on Rivers people to support the state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike on the war against illegal oil bunkering.
The traditional rulers include the Paramount Ruler of Woji community, Eze Emeka Ihunwo, the EzeRisi/Ohia Mbam Abali, Eze Christopher Wonodi, and the Paramount Ruler of Iriebe community, Eze Jeremiah Worenwu.
The monarchs, who spoke in their palaces on the issue, said the war against ‘Kpofire’was a collective one as the situation has reached a dangerous point.
They also dismissed the claim that unemployment was responsible for the menace, adding that there was no society in the world where government employs everybody.
They also noted that the stealing of crude oil did not start today.
Speaking, Paramount Ruler of Woji community, Eze Emeka Ihunwo, said the situation has taken a serious pitch, adding that a lot of lives were being lost as a result of the soot.
Ihunwo also described the action of the governor as timely.
According to the Woji monarch, those in the business of illegal oil bunkering do not know the health hazard they were causing to the people.
Ihunwo said that, in 2018,he invited the youths to his palace and mobilise them against operators of illegal refineries using Woji as conduit channel for evacuation of illegally refined products, and stressed that because of the collective understanding and collaboration of all stakeholders, Woji has not recorded any such criminal act within the community.
He, therefore, challenged other monarchs to emulate the Woji example.
The monarch also acknowledged a reduction in soot in the atmosphere in the state capital, while the amount of oil spill on surfaces of water has also reduced.
Also speaking, the Eze Risi/Ohia Mbam Abali, Eze Christopher Wonodi, said the intervention of the governor has saved the people of the state from series of health challenges.
Wonodi said it behooves the people of Rivers State to give their maximum support to the governor to succeed in eliminating the scourge of the soot pandemic in the state.
He also advised the youths to desist from the nefarious act and find other legitimate means of eking out aliving.
Wonodi also said that his kingdom has started sensitising the people against involvement in illegal oil bunkering.
On his part, the Paramount Ruler of Iriebe community, Eze Jeremiah Worenwu said Wike has shown that he has the capacity to solve societal problems.
Worenwu said that Iriebe community would comply fully with the governor’s directive to stop illegal oil bunkering, and warned those who may want to delve into the illegal business to stay away from the community.
While describing the governor’s action as welcome, the Iriebe monarch said the war against ‘Kpo fire’ needs the support of all members of the society, including the security agencies.
By: John Bibor, Oribim Ibama
ABOLGA Boss Declares Zero Tolerance On Oil Bunkering Activities
The Chairman of Abua/Odual Local Government Area, Hon. Daniel Daniel has thrown his weight behind the ongoing war against soot in Rivers State, assuring that his administration would do everything humanly possible to smoke out the criminal cartels involved in the illicit business.
The chairman, who declared that his administration would not condone activities of artisanal crude oil refineries in Abua/Odual, said he would demolish all illegal oil refining sites in the LGA, as directed by the state governor.
Speaking after visiting one of the uncovered artisanal crude oil bunkering sites in Odau Community, Daniel commended the efforts of the state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, for his relentless pursuit towards bringing to an end the menace called soot, which was threatening the very existence of the people in Rivers State.
He added that the practical steps taken by the governor within the last few weeks was yielding results.
Daniel used the opportunity to caution those who play politics with the fight against soot in the state to desist forthwith.
He further added that it was not proper to politicise this all important issue, which was causing harm to the environment and killing the people slowly.
The chairman called on all indigenes and residents of Abua/Odual Local Government Area to join forces to nip the danger posed by the soot the bud.
The ABOLGA chief executive alsosaid that anyone with useful information onthe locationsof the sites and names of operators where illegal oil bunkering activities are taking place within the area should report with immediate effect, to him or the DPO of the Abua/Odual Divisional Police Command for necessary action.
He disclosed that as the chairman of council, he has knowledge of all forests/communities in the LGA, adding that his administration would leave no stone unturned in implementing the directives of the state governor.
The site visited in Odau Community has over 15 boiling pots and occupies an estimated geographical area of over one hectare of land.
The Tide learnt that the site is bounded by communities from Ahoada-West LGA of Rivers State and Ogbia LGA in Bayelsa State.
Those who accompanied the chairman on the enforcement visit are the DPO of the Divisional Police Command and his men; the C4i LGA commander and his team of gallant men.
Others are the Chief of Staff to the Chairman, Hon. Okpokipoiy Peters; Supervisor for Environment, Hon Vincent Reuben Obu; and his works counterpart, Hon. Zinami Fyneroad Iwariso; Special Adviser on Inter-Party Affairs to the Chairman, Hon Alex Walters who is an indigene of the Odau Community, among others.
By: Nelson Chukwudi
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