To mark the 2021 workers day celebration, General Secretary of the Nigeria Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE), Joe Ajaero, has said workers’ welfare in the past 365 days has been one with more lows than highs due to the Covid-19 Pandemic ravaging the World since March, 2020.
Ajaero decried the insecurity situation in the country, saying safety of workers is now threatened.
He said, “The insecurity situation in the country has grossly increased alarmingly with banditry, abduction/kidnapping, deaths/bloodbaths and willful destruction of Electricity Towers in several locations across the country thus plunging the nation into avoidable blackouts. This may continue in the coming days.”
He said Nigeria’s Power Sector has been submerged in an ocean of challenges which has continually impeded its performance, stressing that he Sector since privatization on November 1, 2013 has not had any fresh investments from what we had pre-privatization.
“We are still enmeshed in the lack of gas supply to the Generation Stations, low water levels at the Hydro-Power Plants, obsolete equipment, non provision of work tools and selective promotion. Others include deduction and non remittance of Contributory Pension, stagnant remuneration since privatization, pockets of complaints arising from non-payment of severance since 2013 and lack of expansion by the new investors to increase output, which still hovers around 4,000MW till date.
“The Power Sector in recent times has been bedeviled with the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) draconian policy which has contributed in frustrating developments in the Sector since it became their business to collect revenue accrued to the business owners. With the CBN being the Revenue Collector, it has become extremely difficult to pay Workers’ Salaries promptly and other overheads required to run these businesses monthly as it releases about 34% of the required funds; contrary to Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission’s (NERC) approval of about 75% for the running of the Companies. This is worsening the fragile operations in the Sector.
“The safety of our Workers who carry out the maintenance works and man the Stations in these restive areas are seriously threatened as some run into dens of bandits and kidnappers while navigating the bushes to repair and maintain faulty Lines.
“Should this alarming rate of insecurity continue in the next few weeks with the devastating effect on our members, we may not have any other option than to withdraw our members from further exposure to security threats, which has taken many lives already.
“Business owners in the Generation Sub-Sector who have decided to inflict more sufferings on Electricity Workers by refusing to sign Conditions of Service are advised to do so without delay; as the books of remembrance shall be opened and violators visited for continued violation of extant Labour Laws.”
“The Federal Government should make good its promises to provide pre-paid meters to Nigerians who have been compelled to keep paying estimated bills with perpetual increase in Electricity Tariff; without commensurate improvement in Services and increase in salaries and wages. It is equally disheartening that gas pricing for Electricity Generation is in Dollars instead of the Naira since gas is generated locally.
“Finally, it is evident going by all indices that the privatization of the Power Sector has not worked almost eight (8) years after. We urge the Federal Government to carry out the five (5) yearly rating of these Companies in the Power Sector and rejig the Sector for efficient service delivery that will engender a robust Power Sector with a capacity to drive industrial development in the country.”