14 January 2014, Lagos -National Union of Electricity Employees, NUEE, has faulted the June deadline given to the private sector electricity companies by the Federal Government to stabilise power supply in the country, saying it is not feasible.
Giving reason while it believes it is unrealistic, General Secretary of NUEE, Comrade Joe Ajaero, said the union was surprised by the ultimatum given by the Minister of Power, insisting the Minister had earlier said, “The problem of the power situation was gas supply.”
“If he knew the problem was gas, why did he hand over the sector to the private sector operators? He should have addressed the gas supply problem. Even within six months, will the gas problem be over especially with the political sitting of power stations in Nigeria? Where you site a power station at 200 or 300 kilometres from the source of gas because you are a minister, you want a power station to be sited in your state.
Rather than site the station close to the source of gas, they site it in their states and you then construct a pipeline from the gas source to where the power plant is situated.
From now and then, you will say the pipeline has been vandalized or sabotaged. So long as the distance between the stations and gas source are far, so long as we depend on gas, the mandate the minister has given them will remain a mirage. It will not be actualized.”
“The same minister had equally said before that he was afraid whether some of the investors have the capacity to revive the sector or change some of the facilities sold to them. This has raised the question whether there was due diligence or whether they knew the capacity of these investors before selling the plants to them.
Never the less, it is too late for all these. We have to live with these investors. We have applied a drug on a patient, we have to wait and watch the effect. I want to appeal to Nigerians to exercise patience and see the effect of this drug.”
Lamenting on the plight of workers in the sector, Ajaero said “As we speak, the issue of disengagement is happening daily.
The kind of private sector you have in Nigeria is such that operators ask workers to go orally. It is a terrible private sector and we have tried to condone them for the first, two and three months because Nigerians would say we disrupted their activities that is why they are not performing.
The poor power situation in the country would have been blamed on the union if we had engaged them immediately they started all these anti-labour practices. But we are going to engage them from now. Wherever they are, from today, they should be aware that for every anti-labour policy they take, we are going to engage them.”
“Some of them have the pedigree of being anti-labour inside out. With such people, you know that it is going to be very interesting. In the next few months, some of the stations would be very hot.
Those of them that refuse to recognize union rights, we are going to engage them and they will engage us. Whether that brings any effect on power situation in the country will not be our business. We have given them time to stabilize, but not to distabilise the workers or them to enslave the workers.”
“However, in some places because of the number of workers sacked, they are equally re-engaging. In very many places they are reengaging. They have discovered that the job cannot go on because of the magnitude of staff disengaged. It is a question of disengaging and reengaging with a whole lot of issues coming up.”
– Victor Ahiuma-Young, Vanguard