The National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) has said that Nigeria's power sector performance has worsened with the privatisation of the sector and called for full renationalisation of the sector under democratic control.
This is even as the Union has issued a two-week ultimatum to the Federal Government to honour and implement the agreement reached with the union which was the basis for the suspension of its recent strike.
The Assistant General Secretary, Western region of the Union, Comrade Modupeoluwa Akinola, said this at a press conference which took place on Monday at the Zonal Secretariat of the Union at Ring Road, Ibadan.
Akinola noted that the Union's opposition to power sector privatisation was because it has not served its purpose of ensuring regular and affordable electricity supply for the citizens while promoting profiteering for business owners.
'Our union rejects the planned privatisation of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), demands full renationalisation of the power sector under the democratic control of a board that includes the representatives of workers and consumers and holds that no amount of intimidation, falsehood, including misrepresentation of facts, can deter us from continuing to express our opposition to the privatisation of the power sector in defence of the interest of our members and the general public.
'Our opposition to the privatisation policy was informed by our understanding and conviction that privatisation will always seek to protect and defend the profit interest of the business owners against the general interest of the people for affordable and regular electricity. This has no doubt been confirmed by the daily agony and pain being experienced by our members and Nigerian people since the privatisation of the power sector over nine years ago.
'Since the privatisation of the power sector in November 2013, all of the hope and expectations that privatisation will add value to the life of the poor and bring meaningful impact and improvement to the power sector has been dashed. The myriad of problems bedevilling the sector prior to the privatisation exercise has worsened and increased in multiple folds.
'Take, for instance, the megawatt output of the Generating Companies has been dwindling below 5,000MW with the incessant collapse of the national grids. This is quite unfortunate, especially with a paltry improvement in the wheeling capacity of the Transmission Company of Nigeria to over 7,000MW.
'The Distribution Companies have not fared better. They have failed to upgrade and expand their capacities/networks while using dubious antics like overbilling to rub the people; forcing communities to procure distribution facilities like transformers, cables, poles, etc., which are not only grossly inadequate but also in decrepit conditions and dubiously claimed ownership,' Akinola said.
On the various financial investment by the Federal Government in the sector over the years, the NUEE said, 'As far as our union is concerned, there is nothing concrete in terms of improvement in the electricity supply and better performance that can be shown for the $20 billion the FG claimed to have invested in the power sector since 2005.'
The NUEE also maintained that its members have been impoverished owing to poor remuneration and non-payment of entitlements.
'The welfare of electricity workers has also worsened in almost nine years of the privatisation of the power sector. Take, for instance, virtually all of the electricity workers currently under the service of both the DISCOs and GENCOs are poorly remunerated without cheering access to certain welfare packages like pension, and leave bonus, among others.
'Specifically, most of the employees of GENCOs are without any signed terms of employment or condition of service. Their right to join and belong to trade unions of their choice is equally being denied.
'Again, many workers of the defunct PHCN are either suffering from untold hardship and poverty or sent to early grave owing to a continuous refusal by the government to pay their entitlements almost nine years after the privatisation of the power sector,' he said.
Other leaders of the Union present at the press conference include the Vice President, West, Comrade Sadiq Adewale; Oyo State Chairman, Comrade Olaide Idris; Zonal Organising Secretary, West, Comrade Victoria Awodire; among others.
It would be recalled that two weeks ago, the Union members in the TCN had embarked on a nationwide strike over alleged discriminatory promotion procedures, and unfair labour practices, among other grievances.