Abuja - Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has described the privatisation of Nigeria's power sector as a complete failure.
Comrade Ayuba Wabba, President of NLC, stated this on Monday at the maiden edition of Nigeria Employers Summit 2022 organised by the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA) in Abuja.
Wabba, who was represented by the Deputy President of NLC, Najeem Usman Yasin, lamented that Nigerians are "paying heavily for megawatts of darkness."
He contended that there cannot be any meaningful development in the country unless the national infrastructural gaps are addressed.
He said: "The recent slump in the national electricity supply which is as a result of constant failure of our electricity grids indicates that Nigeria still has a long way to go in making power supply available to the citizenry.
"The organised private sector has concluded that the state of the public electricity supply as of today, as evident that most productive and residential areas in Nigeria no longer enjoy up to six hours of electricity supply.
"This has confirmed that the recent privatisation of Nigeria's power sector is a complete failure. "Nigerians still pay heavily for megawatts of darkness.
"Government has tried provision of palliatives and bail-out to the so-called private sector investors in the power sector, but all to no avail."
Therefore, President of NLC called for the reversal of the privatisation of power sector and the return of power sector assets to Nigerians. He further decried a situation where Nigeria is losing businesses to neigh bouring African countries due to epileptic power supply in the country.
He pointed out that for the organised private sector to contribute significantly in wealth generation, job creation, fostering of sustainable national development that it has become imperative for government to create enabling environment for private sector.
In his goodwill message, President Muhammadu Buhari commended NECA for organising the two-day summit with the theme, 'The Private Sector -- An Engine for National Development.' Buhari represented by Dr. Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment, said the theme of the summit was very apt considering the challenges "we now face as a country in terms of job creation and empowerment."
He underscored the need for collective action and collaboration between the public and private sectors in the quest for national development.
According to Buhari, "A country is deemed as developed if it can provide qualitative standard of living to citizens, by utilising the different sectors of the economy such as agriculture, industries, efficient ecological management and control, information technology, smooth transition to digital economy, identified human based approach to development, provision of high quality public and primary health services that are affordable, etc.
"In attaining the goal of development, the private sector in tune with the theme of this summit can become the engine of growth in Nigeria in various ways.
"While the government works with the trade unions to ensure sustainability of the enterprise by building and protecting a sound National Industrial Relations System, on the other hand, businesses are also protected and enabled to succeed.
"They are consequently expected to drive growth, create jobs and pay the requisite taxes that would boost investments, finance works and services to improve the social welfare of the people in the field of education, provision of basic facilities, potable water, transportation, care for the aged and other forms of horizontal and vertical social protection/social security that includes but not limited to the empowerment of the less privileged and the vulnerable of society."
In his welcome address, Mr. Taiwo Adeniyi, President and Chairman of Council, NECA, explained that the summit would focus on promoting enterprise development as a major source of national growth, adding that efforts had been made in the past to create a strong platform to champion the enthronement of the private sector as engine of growth and national development.
Adeniyi said the business environment has remained challenging in the aftermath of COVID-19 pandemic which was further exacerbated by multiple shocks from the Russia- Ukraine war, galloping inflation and massive job losses.
He identified factors such as policy inconsistencies, overbearing regulatory framework, multiple taxation, inadequate infrastructure and insecurity as some of the myriads of challenges confronting private sector operators.
He, however, expressed optimism that the outcome of the summit would form the basis of future policy engagements between the organised private sector and government for a rapid socio-economic renaissance of Nigeria.