15 March 2016, Abuja – The Minister of Information and Culture, Mr. Lai Mohammed, has come under fire over a statement attributed to him that the unions in the power sector were sabotaging power infrastructure, leading to outages.
Workers under the aegis of the National Union of Electricity Employees challenged Mohammed to a public debate on the problems in the power sector in a statement on Monday.
While responding to the statement made by the minister in which he condemned the labour unions for shutting down power supply in the country last week, the General Secretary, NUEE, Mr. Joe Ajaero, claimed that the real saboteurs of the power sector were those who refused to load allocation from the national grid for onward distribution to consumers.
He said Mohammed should reveal the identities of the saboteurs who had continued to rip off Nigerians with estimated bills.
Ajaero implied that the minister was in support of the continued abuse and denigration of workers’ rights and privileges in the electricity distribution companies as well as protecting the interest of people who had hijacked the sector.
He urged the minister to stand by Nigerian workers who were demanding a change in the status quo.
The NUEE general secretary added, “Clearly, the minister has shown that he does not speak for the ordinary Nigerians who he ought to defend as a minister of the Federal Republic, but has chosen to become a defender of the powers that have remorselessly ganged up against Nigerian workers and the masses.
“He never saw anything wrong in the illegal sacking of about 400 workers of the electricity sector just by one Disco and the continued abuse and denigration of workers’ rights and privileges in these companies; of course, Lai was not expected to speak for inconsequential nobodies like Nigerian workers; but, he woke up from slumber the moment workers decided to resist the continued impunity.
“We urge the minister to come clean and stand for Nigerians, at least, for this once so that the evil that will manifest more and more in the sector if nothing is done quickly is nipped in the bud immediately.”
Ajaero also challenged the management of Ikeja Electric to make the result of the competency test, which the workers allegedly failed, public in order to subject it to expert analysis and opinion.
According to him, workers will no longer be allowed to be trodden upon “by unscrupulous businessmen, racketeers and their collaborators in government within the power sector.”
He added, “We are law- abiding and we expect all operators within the sector to also be schooled in the dictates of the law as it concerns their operations in the sector.
“What did the minister say when work and workers in the power sector were being casualised, sacked with impunity, owed salaries and other entitlements for months, with many killed through electrocution as a result of criminal negligence by the Discos? Our minister unfortunately maintained a grave silence! We shall no longer wait for the likes of Lai Mohammed for the protection of our own rights.”