Joe Ajaero, Deputy President of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, has said what happened in the power sector was not privatisation, but a balkanisation because it was skewed to benefit the government’s cronies.
Ajaero, who is also the General Secretary of the National Union of Electricity Employees, NUEE, further described the process as a fluke and fraud, asking why the government would pump N1.7 trillion in five years into a sector it privatised.
The union leader was speaking on Channels TV Sunrise Daily on Tuesday, on the topic “Nigeria’s Power Privatisation, The Journey So Far”.
According to Ajaero, genuine private owners can build and thrive side-by-side public ownership, “as we have with NESCO in Jos, which has been generating, transmitting and distributing power since 1929.”
For building power plants and planning to sell them to the private sector for N400 billion, Ajaero described the Federal Government as a contractor.
Ajaero said: “10 years before privatisation, the government did not spend anything to shore up NEPA “that was producing 4,000Mw; inefficient but low tariff.
“However, in five years, after privatisation, the government has given them N1.7 trillion and at a time was subsidising with N1.7 billion daily.
“This is a sector that is stuck at that same megawatts, but has increased tariff five times.”
Asked about the success in the telecommunications sector, Ajaero explained that it was not privatisation that occurred, but a change in technology and that was what he was advocating— private sector existing and competing with public ownership— would have happened in the power sector.
“However,” he noted, shaking his head ruefully, “they destroyed NITEL. It was not privatisation of the telecom sector. What happened was vandalisation.
“You don’t have to kill NTA for Channels to thrive.”
He said if NEPA had been allowed to exist with its 4,000Mw production, the about 25 licensed private body could add about 3,000Mw in a sane environment.
“Now NEPA is split into 18 firms, shared among friends, and we are still stuck at 4,000Mw, making Nigerians pay for the greed of a few,” he added.
The Electric Power Sector Reform Act of 2005 unbundled NEPA into six generation companies and 12 distribution companies, which was implemented on September 30, 2013.