By KUNLE KALEJAYE & Nnena Ezeah
The National Union of Electricity Employee, NUEE, has described the $8 billion invested in the National Independent Power Project, NIPP as inadequate for the power sector to generate 60,000 megawatt.
The General Secretary of NUEE, Joseph Ajaero said “if the country is currently not generating any electricity, the $8 billion invested in the NIPP is not enough to generate 60,000 megawatt because the country’s current demand for electricity is above 30, 000mw”
Ajaero made this known during the union’s visit to Vanguard Media Ltd head office in Lagos, along with members of Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies adding that the current system collapse in the country was as a result of lack of managing the country’s power plant by the Federal government.
He said “The transmission lines are so weak that they are not capable of conveying electricity to our homes.
“Instead of maintaining the transmission lines and replacing old transformers, the Minister of Power, Pro Bath Nnaji, sacked three senior PHCN officials whose duties have nothing to do with power generation, transmission and distribution.
“The three people that the minister were the GM Human Resources the Market Operator and the CEO Transmission. The minister said it was these people who were sabotaging the power situation in the country. But these sacked individual jobs had nothing to do with power generation as at that moment.
It will be recalled that the minister had earlier sacked three PHCN top executives for allegedly sabotaging government’s effort to privatise the sector and to ensure stable power supply.
He reiterated that if the power plants had undergone turn around maintenance over the years, the country will experience constant power supply.
“For more than 40 years, none of the power plant has undergone a robust turn around maintenance, if they have been well maintained there will be constant power supply.
“We have what is called water management. When water is in its peak, you make use of hydro power plant to generate power while gas power plant will be maintained. When the gas plant runs short of gas then the hydro power plant will be used to generate electricity.
He also noted that during election period, Kaiji Dam was over flogged, as none of its units had undergone turn around maintenance, which accounted for its frequent systems collapse.
“When you over flog the system today, you will pay for it tomorrow. The federal government over flogged the system during election period to give Nigerians the impression that there will be constant power supply when the present government comes into power” he said.
Accordingly, the NUEE scribe reiterated that electricity workers were not sabotaging efforts to privatise, insisting that their concern is to protect workers welfare, and for government to dispense with all outstanding labour issues before proceeding with the exercise.
Ajero said “how do we guarantee a robust power sector if some people want to take the little 3000megawatts we are generating now that we are supposed to hold for other people to come, you are now saying take it and give it to the private sector.
“Nobody sold NTA to AIT before AIT came into effect. They gave AIT, Channels and silver bird their license and there is competition.”
He said as a labor union they need to protect the interest of their workers.
“It has never happened in all the companies privatized that the workers entitlements where not settled before you bring the private sector and say bring in your service and join the private man. The mistake they are making is that you don’t transfer public sector employment to private sector employment as given, You can’t be a government worker today and become a private sector worker tomorrow because the company that you are been transferred from has liquidated.
Under section 20 and 10 of the labor law, you must seek my permission before I move to another place to work and I must voluntary apply to move to where I want to work.”
He explained that that they have recommended the deregulation of the power sector. “If you give these people license as an alternative to come and generate and they have the capacity to generate 50MWTs, they should go on and do it, also if they have the capacity to put PHCN under go, they should go ahead and do it”.
Ajero blamed the government for not having a conscious master plan that at least every year they must feed in 500 megawatt.
“If we fail to feed in additional megawatt this year, by next year, the 3,000 megawatt will go down if you were getting six hours before you will be getting four hours because the government has kept power supply constant for some time and the demand will also increase then we will continue to experience drop in power supply in the country, this is where the simply law of demand and supply comes to play.”.
For instance, he noted that in the 2012 budget, no provision was made for the settlement of entitlements for PHCN workers. “When you take a close look at the 2012 budget there is no provision for the settlement of PHCN staff entitlements. What this underscores is that they want us to experience what workers in the telecoms and aviation sectors suffered when those sector was privatised in a rush.
“But what we are being told is that when the private sector takes over the various companies, we will automatically become their staff, but that is not possible.
“You cannot transfer public employment to private employment, what needs to be done is that we have to terminate our appointment first with the public sector and receive our entitlement then if the company coming to take over says he needs our services then will open a new chapter with him, that is how it should be done,” he said.