*Labour accuses Minister of Power of working for foreign interests
*…says sacked MD strengthened transmission network nationwide
By Victor Young, Chris Ochayi & Shina Abubakar
Organised labour, on Tuesday, rejected the sack of Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, MD/CEO, of Transmission Company of Nigeria, TCN, Usman Mohammed, and demanded his immediate reinstatement.
Labour also demanded the resignation of the Minister of Power, Mamman Saleh, over Mohammed’s sack, accusing the minister of working for foreign interests to the detriment of Nigerians.
Workers in the power sector also held protests in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, and Oshogbo, Osun State capital, rejecting Mohammed’s sack and calling for his immediate reinstatement.
The protesting workers crippled operations at TCN headquarters in Abuja and Oshogbo, arguing that Mohammed’s passion for the development and the growth of the sector was second to none in recent times.
In Abuja, protesting members the Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies, SSAEAC, and Nigeria Union of Electricity Employees, NUEE, threatened to shut the power sector over Mohammed’s sack and rejected the appointment of Sule Ahmed Abdulaziz as acting MD/CEO.
Recall that the Minister of Power, Engr. Sale Mamman, Tuesday night, announced the replacement of Mr. Mohammed with Engr. Sule Ahmed Abdulaziz.
Engr. Abdulaziz, until the appointment as the Managing Director of TCN in acting capacity, was the Regional Transmission Manager, Abuja Region of TCN.
The workers, Wednesday, abandoned their duty posts and vowed not to return until the MD/CEO was reinstated.
In Osogbo Regional Station, the protesting workers locked the two entrances into the facilities and barricaded the road with their vehicles.
The workers, who were at the entrance in their numbers, said their being at the gate was to prevent anyone from accessing the facility.
State Chairperson of NUEE, Alhaja Kudrat Adekunle, who spoke, said members were dissatisfied with the removal of the TCN MD.
She said: “We are not satisfied with the way our Managing Director, Usman Mohammed, was sacked by the Minister of Power and his subsequent replacement with Engineer Abdulaziz. That is why union members locked the facility in protest.”
The protesting workers told Vanguard that the protest was the first phase, threatening that if government refused to reinstate Mohammed, the workers might embark on full-blown strike.
Meanwhile, labour in a statement through the national leadership of NUEE, warned that should the sack of TCN MD\CEO stand, its negative fallouts would be too great for the country.
It contended that “it is no gainsaying that the little improvement made in the power sector in recent times is due to the strengthening of the Transmission Network Nationwide.”
NUEE, in the statement by its General Secretary, Joe Ajaero, lamented that the recent gains were about to be lost because of the Minister of Power’s removal of the MD/CEO of TCN, who had made the gains possible.
According to the statement, “the minister’s action, which may have taken the power sector 30 years backward may not be unconnected with the impending contract racketeering, which the Union has raised alarm about to Nigerians.
“But the Minister is bent on ripping off the people. The question Nigerians should ask the Minister of Power is why the haste to remove the MD/CEO of TCN?
“We have expressed worry that the Federal Government is handing very sensitive part of the nation’s power sector to a foreign firm that had failed three times in past contract awarded to it in Nigeria.
“We had stated that a contract for the rehabilitation of one of the 330KV line circuit breaker between Ajah and Egbin, which is dangerously standing on one feeder circuit, for over two years; yet the firm is yet to mobilise.
“Despite the alarm raised, the minister has gone ahead to remove the perceived stumbling block on his way.
“As it stands today, no MD/CEO in TCN has provided for the welfare and happiness of workers in the sector better than Mohammed.
“He has stabilised the network and system better than any person before him. Nobody has generated a lot of revenue for government more than U. G. Mohammed. Nobody has protected the interest of the country against foreign predators like U. G. Mohammed.
“The MD of TCN is there to serve the interest of government, electricity users in the country, the workers and Nigerians in general and not the selfish interest of any minister.
“While we commend our members for their response to the sad action of the minister, we urge them to remain on their work bits, but should not fail to pull out should the work stations be militarised, as witnessed in some locations today (Wednesday).