By Victor Ahiuma-Young
THE organised labour has called on the Federal Government to immediately review the privatisation of the power sector and revoke the licences of Electricity Generation Companies, GENCOs and Electricity Distribution Companies, DISCOs, to tackle the worsening power situation in the country.
Speaking through the United Labour Congress of Nigeria, ULC, labour said this call is important if the government is serious about stopping the current poor electricity supply in the sector.
In a communique issued at the end of its Central Working Committee meeting in Lagos, ULC demanded among others, the immediate review of the privatisation of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, to save Nigerians the agony of the suffocating darkness which the GENCOs and DISCOs have foisted on the nation.
The communique signed by ULC’s President, Joe Ajaero, equally demanded for the immediate payment of all arrears of severance packages owed the defunct workers and staff of the PHCN.
It stated: “We had thought that this government after three years in the saddle would have critically reviewed the privatisation of the electricity industry. Unfortunately, the status quo has rather been deepened even as the nation suffers increasing gaps in electricity supply as more and more households and organisations wallow in darkness.
“It is on record that over 48, 000 workers in that sector lost their jobs and are still being owed over 16 months’ arrears in agreed payments. Over 2,000 workers have not received any severance package since then and have continued in perpetual hunger and suffering with their family members, yet, this government pretends that all is well.
“The exercise has not worked and has become a platform for official corruption. We do not understand why this government will continue the fraudulent dishing out of tax payers’ funds to private entities to which it has sold its assets to. How can you sell your house to somebody and continue paying him money for buying the house from you? Nigerians demand explanations.
“Once again, we call on this government if it is serious about making appreciable change and stop the current poor electricity supply and extortion in the name of estimated billings to review the privatisation of the electricity sector with aim of reversing it.
We do not understand why the government is afraid of reviewing it since the exercise was not carried out under its administration.”
The communique also demanded that the president gives assent to the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB), “We are worried that despite the fact that the PIGB is just one leg in the four-legged PIB, and despite its protracted journey in the National Assembly (NASS), and having been passed, the president has not yet made up his mind on whether to assent to it or not. We call for a definitive action by the president to ensure that it becomes law very soon.
“We demand an immediate stoppage of the bogus cash transfers to the so-called poorest of the poor in Nigeria involving the returned Abacha loot. We condemn this fraudulent attempt to re-loot the Abacha loot under the cover of providing for the poor. We call on the Federal Government to rise and defend Nigerian workers in view of the impunities currently pervading our industrial landscape.
“To this end we demand that all the organisations especially in the aviation, power, banking & finance sector, the oil and gas industry and the telecommunication sector, especially MTN and Huawei should be forced to desist from disobeying our laws that guarantees Nigerian workers the right to freely associate and organise.
“We had commended the president on his courage to have withstood the pressure to drag Nigeria into the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCTA), which we believe as presently configured, would emasculate the economic interest of Nigeria. We urge the president to remain steadfast until the document is properly reviewed to address our fears as a nation. We believe that the long term interests of Nigeria must be addressed especially our market and its consequences on domestic capacities and eventually jobs and domestic multipliers.”