Power reform: Labour threatens to plunge nation into darkness May 1

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…insists FG must publish report of $16bn NIPP investigation

Organised labour is concluding plans to plunge the nation into total darkness by switching off all sources of public power supply come May 1 should the Federal Government fail to respond to its demand on labour issues and workers’ welfare with regard to the privatisation of Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).

To this effect, it has handed the government a two-week ultimatum within which to address all labour related issues including making public the report of House Committee on Power led by Ndudi Elumelu before April 31, 2011.

The workers under the aegis of National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) and Association of Electricity and Allied Companies (SSAEAC) addressing journalists in Lagos, weekend, specifically challenged the government to make public the report of the House Committee on Power led by Ndudi Elumelu, noting that it would be unpatriotic to sweep under the carpet details of the investigations on the $16 billion spent by the Federal Government on National Integrated Power Projects (NIPP).

The planned action, labour said was to resist government’s privatisation exercise of Power Holding Company of Nigeria’s (PHCN) plants, while insisting that the purported bidding of Eko Power Plant by an investor for N2 billion is nothing but a game plan by the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) to sell out a national asset generating over N1.6 billon monthly target income to the government at a cheap price.

According to Bede Opara, president of SSAEAC, unless labour issues are discussed, settled and the BPE transparently open up the purported privatisation of power plants, electricity workers in the country will down tools at the end of April 2011.

“Government has so far demonstrated insincerity with reforms in the power sector by refusing to explore other areas of efficient and reliable electricity generation, rather, it has adopted the sale of what is in existence. For instance, the purported bidding of Eko Power Plant for N2 billion by an investor, at a giveaway price, whereas the monthly target of the plant stands at over N1.6 billion,” he said.

Also speaking, the general secretary of NUEE, Joe Ajaero, described as “unfortunate and sordid that most of the gladiators in the privatisation deal are interested parties who had previously tried to no avail to hoodwink past administration to buy over our commonwealth”.

However, the BPE has distanced itself from the alleged under valuing of the nation’s power plant. A senior management staffer of the organisation speaking on condition of anonymity said the workers were entitled to their opinion.

“Workers of PHCN have their own opinion as BPE will always try to be transparent in all its activities”, the source claimed.

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