May 20, 2024

Workers shutdown Ministry of Power, TCN over dispute with FG

How explosion at Kainji caused nationwide blackout - Power minister, Adelabu


…reject deduction of N2bn monthly from TCN to funds DISCOs

…issue FG 2 weeks strike notice on deduction, electricity tariff hike, others

By Victor AhiumaYoung, Obas Esiedesa & Ihejiekpo Esther

Electricity workers union have locked out the Minister of Power, Chief Adebayo Adelabu, and other top officials of the Ministry and the Transmission Company of Nigeria, TCN, over pending labour issues including an order from the Federal Government that N2 billion should be deducted from the account of the Transmission Company of Nigeria, TCN, to fund power distribution companies, DisCos.

The workers who locked the gates leading into the complex that houses the Ministry of Power and TCN, vowed not to open it until they met with the Minister.

Vanguard gathered that the workers took the drastic action after the Minister failed to meet with their union officials last Thursday.

However, in a note to journalists, the Minister’s media aide, Bolaji Tunji, said the “Minister has said he is willing to meet with the people invited for the meeting which is NUEE and its senior staff association, at a date to be agreed to by the two parties.”

Meanwhile, the two in-house unions have rejected the order from the Federal Government that N2 billion should be deducted from the account of the TCN to fund power distribution companies, DisCos, describing it as “unrealistic and an attempt to run TCN down.”

In a joint letter to the Minister of Power, the National Union of Electricity Employees, NUEE, and its Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies, SSAEAC, they issued a two-week strike notice to the government to stop the practice among other demands, saying it is mischievous to deduct N2billion of the revenue generated by TCN as technical losses for the DiSCos.

This came as they reiterated their calls for the reversal of the 300 percent hike in electricity tariff, demanding among others, that “NERC must reverse the unilateral tariff increase implemented without consulting with critical stakeholders in the sector. The salaries of the workers in the sector must be reviewed. All obnoxious deductions from TCN must stop forthwith and all deducted funds remitted back to TCN with immediate effect. Why these deductions, when revenue is required to strengthen the already aged and weak network that will guarantee stable and reliable energy supply?

“Henceforth, all staff in the sector will have electricity rebates (units) allocated to them as a standard practice. Power Generation Companies, GenCos must not be given revenue generated from TCN and DisCos until they allow the unionization of their companies as provided by the Labour Act. The unions frown at the proposed unbundling of TCN without input from all critical stakeholders and demand that the government should immediately direct NERC to halt it.

“We implore the Minister that in the interest of industrial peace and sustainability of the entire electricity value chain, the tariff increase should be reversed and the status quo should be maintained within the next two weeks as stated above with effect from Monday of 20th May, 2024. It is imperative that the industrial harmony so far recorded in the sector should be protected by all stakeholders towards delivering uninterrupted Power Supply to Nigerians.”

The unions noted that “We are taken aback by the utmost disregard for the critical stakeholders in the power sector by you and your agency’s unilateral and detrimental decisions in the sector.

We believe that all agencies, under your ministry, should key into your agenda and set goals by extension to the vision of this administration in seeing to a regular and sustainable power supply in the country.

“The disruption being engineered by NERC in the sector is not surprising as there is no known agenda or vision for the power sector by your administration one year after the resumption of office. The unfortunate scenario playing out in the Power Sector points to the fact that you administer the sector like a personal estate with no consideration for the welfare and survival of the workers and the sector in general.

“In retrospect, since you assumed office a year ago, your ministry and NERC have been running the sector without recourse to critical stakeholders in the power industry.

Minister, in case you are not aware, we want to enumerate below some of your unfriendly and harsh policies that have helped to make the sector perform below the expected level of quality service required by Nigerians. This include Unilateral tariff increase to about 300 percent without stakeholders’ dialogue while the proposed review of workers’ salary does not receive the desired considerations. This is provocative and unacceptable. The mischievous deduction of 8 percent of the revenue generated as technical losses from TCN is a political calculation to blackmail the company and its management to make it look inefficient is disheartening and would in the long term hurt the entire electricity value chain. This is highly unacceptable and cannot be sustained.

“The vexatious order from NERC on a monthly deduction of N2 billion from the account of TCN is unrealistic and an attempt to run TCN down, portray the management as incompetent and take advantage of the failures for selfish political gains. We want a justified reason for such a humongous and unrealistic deduction. Consideration was not put in place for the effect of this on the salaries of workers and their welfare before implementing this unrealistic deduction; the illegal deduction of 46.7 percent from TCN revenue (not even profit) for project execution for DisCos. Are the privatized companies not owned by private entities? What system of privatization are we adopting?

Our findings revealed that all these obnoxious orders from NERC are a conspiracy to grind the operations of TCN and then liquidate it. These are to prepare enough ground to unbundle it for selfish political gains by some few people. The Unions will vehemently resist any attempt to cede these infrastructures to cronies for political patronage.

Vanguard News