Electricity workers in Nigeria through the organised labour have opposed the over N3 trillion injected into electricity companies by Federal Government into the privatised electricity companies owned by individuals, without commensurate increase in power generation over the past 10 years.
Secretary General of National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE), Comrade Joe Ajaero expressed the concern during the Public Hearing on a Bill to Amend Electric Power Sector Reform Act, 2005 to provide the legal and institutional framework for the Implementations and Coordination of Rural Electrification Projects, Establishment of the National Power Training Institute and Regulatory provisions to strengthen the sector for efficient services delivery and for related matters’, held at the instance of House Committee on Power chaired by Hon. Aliyu Magaji.
Comrade Ajaero who argued that the privatisation has further compounded the economic woes, maintained that the privatisation policy was designed to fail from the onset.
He maintained that “there has not been meaningful improvement or contribution by the current investors 9 years after privatization and 17 years after the Electric Power Sector Reform Act, 2005 was signed into law.”
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 thee amendments are critically based on market private public where we belong now.
“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 and we have written consistently and it has not happened.
“This Act, are we really obeying it? If there is provision for review after five years, and Nigerians are groaning, consistently Nigerians are complaining and we say privatization was based on the fact that government doesn’t have any business in it and government is pumping in money to an individuals business.
“As we speak now, 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 government now has to pump and fund the business of another man. And we need to sit down and see what is working for us.
“That is why we came here to say the laws we made by ourselves, we can pause and look at it and move on. Since nobody has to talk about reversion of privatization, but let’s us see how it can ft us.
“As we are speaking today, the issue of tariffs 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 two trillion (naira) in the economy of Nigeria today it will thrive, but it is being pumped into business owned by individuals. Let’s look at. What is the cost benefit analysis of this if we have to take our money and go and check the records, for about 10 years before privatization, government didn’t put ten percent that money into the sector but it’s putting it now.
“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. Non for the next two years nor three years for power generation to be constant, at 4,000 Megawatt, and demand will continue to increase because more houses will be built, connect on and on.
“So if this is reduced to public hearing and no action is taken further on how to make the system work, and Nigeria is still at the bottom of countries suffering power poverty all over the world.
“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. The same thing with Zungeru.
“The union doesn’t want to bask in the euphoria of the Act/law which does not provide one Megawatt to the system. The union doesn’t want to bask 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 noted.
In the bid to address myriad of challenges facing the industry, Comrade Ajaero underscored the need for review of shareholding of the industry.
According to him, “The 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.
“Besides, the Federal Government has continued to fund the Sector. Available statistics shows that about N400 billion was realized from the privatization of the Power sector with the Federal Government investing over one trillion thereafter,” he stressed.
In his remarks, the committee chairman, Hon. Magaji explained that the public hearing was to address the concerns raised by the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) on the directive of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, before the consideration of the Committee’s report on the public hearing held on the 14th December, 2021.
Meanwhile, the Minister of State for Power, Mr. Goddy Jedy-Agba who spoke during a media chat with Parliamentary Correspondents on the 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.
Meanwhile, Comrade Joe Ajaero also called for the criminalization of estimated billing system in the power sector.
He noted that the Electric Power Sector Reform Act makes it mandatory for all Distribution Electricity Licensee to ensure Consumers in the Country are properly metered.