Mass Action Against Power Sector Privatisation and Estimated Billings

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The Coalition for Revolution (CORE) organised a rally to advance the struggle for electricity rights on 17 June. Members of the Socialist Workers and Youth League (SWL) helped organise the mass action which began at the Freedom Park, Ojota and proceeded to Lagos State Secretariat, Alausa, Ikeja, with community activists and organisations.

The demonstration was a success despite challenges faced in organising it. It has also inspired similar actions around the electricity struggle. The action was a product of series of meetings with community activists from Mushin, Ijora, Oshodi, etc. It was in one of these mass meeting held at Ijora-Badia which had well over 800 persons in attendance that it was resolved to hold a demonstration against the failure of the privatisation of the power sector and extortion by the GENCOs and DISCOs.

Our demands were contained in the petition submitted to the Lagos State Government through the Lagos State House of Assembly (LSHA).

These were; The re-nationalization of the power sector and other commanding heights of the economy to be put under workers’ democratic control, End to estimated billings, Immediate supply of free pre-paid meters without consolidated arrears, End to victimisation of community activists and groups, Lagos State Government should drop all charges against community activists.

Rally in front of the LSHA. The police prevented our entry, but officials of the Assembly eventually had to come out and receive the petition as we refused to budge!

Also, among the demands that were presented to the Lagos State Government is the call for immediate release of all activists incarcerated because of the struggle against crazy bills and epileptic power supply.

The Electricity Distribution Companies particularly the Eko Distribution Company (EKEDC) and Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company Plc (IKEDC) in collusion with the police force have resorted to the undemocratic approach of repression and unlawful incarceration to suppress the popular demands for better power sector.

There were attempts by the DISCOs’ bosses and the state to demoralize and prevent the 17 June action, but the working people were resolute and reached the understanding that only through mass actions there can be meaningful social change.

Similarly, the Ikeja and Eko DISCOs after their failure to demobilize the action through intimidation and repression, summoned two town hall meetings within 3 days immediately after the 17 June mass action. Clearly that is a cosmetic approach, the GENCOs and DISCOs are not in any way committed to providing adequate and affordable electricity for Nigerians.

The success of the 17 June action spread widely immediately, inspiring many other communities and groups within and outside Lagos State who have drawn lessons from the mass action. There was similar protest around Abule-Egba/Agbado-Okeodo axis of Lagos State, demanding for revocation of the GENCOs and DISCOs licenses and free Pre-paid Meters.

Socialist Workers and Youth League (SWL), urges different community organizations, trade unions, workers and students to join the mobilization to end privatisation of electricity and all public services.

SWL fights for re-nationalisation of electricity under the democratic management and control of workers.

We must fight for the commanding heights of the economy and all public assets to be placed under the democratic control of the working class, and the revenue from this used to benefit working-class people who are the ones short-changed by the present system based on the profit motive.

The people united and determined can never be defeated.

by Lai BROWN

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