By Victor AHIUMA-YOUNG
ORGANISED Labour in the nation’s Power sector and Nigerians will be the ultimate loser in the long run if the sector is eventually privatized and handed over to the private sector.
Under the umbrella of the National Union of Electricity Employees, NUEE, workers in the sector, against the patriotic counsel by organized labour, some privileged individuals are bent on appropriating public assets through their fronts.
Speaking through the General Secretary of the union, Comrade Joe Ajaero, lamented that at the time Nigerians would come to terms with the position being canvassed by the workers, it would have been too late.
He said, “The power situation that have today is what has been given by the state. If they generate more than what is presently generated and the environment is right, we are capable, we are willing and ready to do more to ensure that Nigerians see the benefits.
“We are not trying to convince anybody, it is not about convincing people of what is happening, it is all about telling them the situation. I am saying that it will be too late, if after we are have said do not privatise, then government privatized, few years later the expected stable power did not materialize. Instead of stable power supply, the power situation becomes worse, Nigerians would say, Ah! the union warned against it.
Unfortunately, then, it will be too late. So, now is the time to rise against it. Let me tell you this, even Nigerians, know that they have used soldiers against us, used the police against us, used Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, against us, even the press are being against us. They only organization they have not used against us is the customs. So, it is not that this issue is not on the public domain, it is on the public domain for everybody to see.”
“Till today nobody has equally defeated us in our argument that in South Africa for instance, it is a private sector or in country A or B, it is a private sector. We have given Nigerians the conservative position of things that private sector can’t run this sector vibrantly.
They have been saying the public can no longer and the government can no longer. We have equally cited the case of the United State of America, where the Federal Government generates 250,000 mega watts, then; the states and the private sector generate to compliment the 250,000 because they are targeting not less than one million mega watts in the US.
This is a capitalist economy and here, they are telling us it is private sector and market forces. South African Government is neck deep in the generation and distribution of power in that country, I don’t know if we are better than all these examples we are mentioning, including Egypt.
“The private sector is only plays complimentary role. We are providing useful information for Nigerians and if those driving this privatization agenda trust themselves and their facts and if they are not hiding anything, why are they not calling for national debate. Why can’t even the senate, summon the parties so that we put this our argument across on how best to run this sector? “
According to Ajaero, “We have been making our points and these points are hitting them. The points we have been making have not changed. We have not gone beyond telling what we believe to be the truth and the best for Nigeria in the long run. We don’t want to say, but we told you, that would leave Nigeria in perpetual lamentation.
“At that time, they will tell us that electricity is not for the poor. Because if we turn it to the private sector, the private sector who is driven by profit maximization will not bother to take power to your village and mine as well, because those in the villages will even not pay the private sector price.”
On if they there has been any attempt to compromise him, Comrade Ajaero declared, “it depends on what you mean by compromise. It is not hidden that I have not agreed with their own line of thought and there is a general notion that everybody has a price. Well, I am saying that my own price is zero tag. So, it is no price tag.
“I want to say this, if we had succumbed to maybe the monetization of 50billion being killed, maybe I would have gotten something from it. Let us talk about the arrears, even the issue of 12.5 percent, if we had succumbed, maybe I would have had something from it and the workers would have suffered. I am using this as a general notion. If I have collected kola, like some people would say, maybe, we would be somewhere and Nigeria would have suffered for it.”
“I am not saying I am a saint, I am not. This issue is clear. You must hear from us if we must hear from you and we all agree, then we move into it. If you are able to convince us, we will even give you more support and canvass it.