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Power Generation: Labour reacts over N3trn injected by FG

Power-generation, Labour

Says privatisation policy was designed to fail from onset

…as Minister denies knowledge of arbitrary increment of tariff

By Tom Okpe

The Organised Labour has reacted over N3 trillion injected by the Federal Government into privatised electricity companies, owned by private companies without adequate supply.

Secretary General, National Union of Electricity Employees, (NUEE) Comrade Joe Ajaero expressed this concern on Thursday, at a Public Hearing on a bill to amend Electricity Power Sector Reform Act, 2005.

The House Ad’hoc Committee Chairman on Power, Rep Aliyu Magaji said this is to provide legal and institutional framework for the implementation and coordination of Rural Electrification projects, establishment of National Power Training Institute and Regulatory provisions, strengthen the sector for efficient service delivery and other related matters.

In his remarks, Rep Magaji explained that the public hearing was to address concerns raised by the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, (NGF) on directive of the Speaker, House of Representatives, Rep Femi Gbajabiamila, before considering the Committee’s report on the public hearing held, 14th December, 2021.

Comrade Ajaero argued that the privatisation has further compounded economic woes, maintaining that the privatisation policy was designed to fail from onset.

“There has not been meaningful improvement or contribution by the current investors many years after privatization and 17 years after the Electric Power Sector Reform Act, 2005 was signed into law,” Ajaero said.

While stressing the need to review the entire privatization exercise, the NUEE Scribe said: “Our position on privatization is clear, but we are worried whether the amendments are critically based on market private public, where we now, belong.

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“Having tried privatization for 10 years, and we are doing just the amendment of sections of the act and even the review provision in the act which gives provision for the review of the sector after five years, we have written consistently and it has not happened.

“In this Act, are we really obeying it? If there is provision for review after five years, and Nigerians are groaning consistently and complaining.

“The act of privatization was based on the fact that government doesn’t have business in it and, why is government still putting more money into individuals business.

“As we speak, almost N3 trillion has been pumped into the power sector which wasn’t there when it was owned by the government. So what’s the logic to say Government has no business in business and still funding the same business.

“That is why we came here to say that the laws we made, we can pause and look at it and move on. Since nobody has to talk about reversion of privatization, but let’s see how it can favour us.

“The issue of tariff is on, if government is pumping in trillions and Nigerians are being compelled to pay, you can see what is happening, the country is suffering.

“If you put N2 trillion in the economy of Nigeria today it will thrive, but it is going into business, owned by individuals.

“For another 10 years no increase in generation, no conscious master plan, there is no plan in the country that by next year power plant will come into the system. None, for the next two years or three years for power generation to be constant, at 4,000 Megawatt, and demand will continue to increase because more houses will be built and connected with power.

“The normal concept is one million people to one thousand Megawatt, and we have a country of 200 million people with 4 to 5 thousand Megawatt, nobody is talking about it.

“During the Babangida era there was feasibility study on Mambila which had the capability of giving what we are having in this country today, and from that period till now, nothing has happened, same with Zungeru.

“The union doesn’t want to bask in the euphoria of Act or law which does not provide one Megawatt to the system.

“The union doesn’t want to believe in the euphoria of having 19 companies, 19 MD’s and ED’s on 4,000 Megawatts.

“The company that was owned by one ED before will now multiply. The multiplication of 19 successor companies did not add one Megawatt.

“So, what’s the honest sense of sweeping in 200 companies knowing the generation is constant,” Comrade Ajaero stated.

He also noted that option of Government controlling 60 percent shares of the facilities as against the present 40%,(inclusive of the negotiated 10% equity shareholding for staff in line with the Laws setting up the National Council on privatization (NCP) is imminent as the Private Sector Operators have clearly shown lack of capacity to construct a simple Power Plant since the last 9 years.

Meanwhile, Minister of State for Power, Goddy Jedy-Agba who spoke during a media chat with Correspondents on presentation of the NUEE Secretary General on abitrary increase of electricity tariff, denied knowledge of the indiscriminate electricity tariff imposed by Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, (NERC) on consumers.

“I can’t speak on tariff, the chairman NERC should as I am not conversant with what happens there,” Agba said.

But when informed that he’s the Minister supervising activities of NERC and other regulatory agencies, he said: “No, don’t put me in a corner. There’s a chairman responsible for NERC.

You want me to tell you what does not apply so you hold me unto it?

“The Chairman NERC is here, let me bring him here that when you ask, he will answer.”

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Ihesiulo Grace

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