NIGERIANS would have had a long laugh at the news that the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, was embarking on strike. Whether it was NEPA (Never Expect Power Always) or PHCN (Problem Has Changed Name), Nigerians knew what to expect from the organisation â€“ darkness, irregular power supply and excuses that are longer than the River Niger, which is sometimes blamed for its low water levels.
At other times, the high level of the waters of the Niger has been cited as the reason for power failure.
One thing that PHCN does excellently is sending bills regularly, especially to locations that have been cut off from the famous national grid. Nigerians have no expectations from PHCN.
Almost every Nigerian supply his own electricity, at least a huge part of it. In most places the supply from the PHCN is used as supplementary. Businesses, homes and any serious enterprise know better than depending on PHCN.
Nigerians would have wanted to see the face of a PHCN strike. Without a strike it fails to supply electricity. PHCN hardly works. Is it possible that while on strike there may be electricity, since there would be no workers to switch off the lights?
PHCN is one of the last public institutions that the Federal Government must make definite decisions about if it is to improve the general well being of Nigerians. Billions of Naira poured into a wasteful national agency cannot produce any meaningful results.
The workers wanted to embark on strike over arrears of their entitlements dating back seven years. Governments that refuse to cater for the welfare of their workers but expect them to be productive.
Arrears in workersâ€™ entitlement tally with the arrears of government investments in the power sector over the decades. So many words have been used to address the urgency of increased electricity supply. The woes from poor electricity, as well as the billions of Naira that can be saved monthly if there is improved electricity, are too well known that they have become recitals at seminars on Nigeria â€™s under development.
Yet governments have done pretty nothing and PHCN workers have relapsed into annoyingly agitating for improved welfare, when they are not productive and cannot be without the equipment they require to work.
The proposed strike was called off after government threw N5 billion at PHCN to pay the workers. Where does government get money for purposes that would not be really helpful? Does PHCN not make any money of its own to use in looking after its workers?
PHCN workers vote of no confidence on the newly appointed Presidential Special Adviser on Power, Professor Barth Nnaji, shows how self-serving the strike was meant to be. While some are hoping that Nnaji a world acclaimed expert in engineering, robotics and power systems would rescue the country, PHCN workers were so peeved about their seven-year-old arrears that they wanted Nnajiâ€™s head as if he was there in 2003.
There must be a solution to electricity supply and the government must find it. The solution is far from throwing money to stop a PHCN strike, when the facilities that the organisation requires to supply electricity are unavailable.
When next there is threat of another strike what would the government do?