Don't Derail Government's Transformation Plans in Power Sector, Nigeria Appeals To Labour Unions

Don’t Derail Government’s Transformation Plans in Power Sector, Nigeria Appeals To Labour Unions

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The federal government on Tuesday appealed to the Organised Labour Centre not to derail its transformation plan for the power sector, saying the current service is required to achieve the desired result.

Minister of Power, Bayo Adelabu, who gave the passionate plea Tuesday while addressing newsmen after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting at the State House, Abuja, also assured labour unions that the demands they placed before government during their protest on Monday are being considered.

Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) leaders had on Monday led their members on peaceful protest in different parts of the country, picketing the activities of agencies and institutions under the Power Ministry, demanding the reversal of recent increase in electricity tariff.

Reacting to the demands by the Labour unions, Adelabu stressed that the federal government had noted their grievances, received their demands and would be engaging further with them, adding that President Bola Tinubu’s administration is a listening government.  

He said: “The first question was about the recent Labour unions’ peaceful protest with regards to the recently increased tariffs for Band A customers in Nigeria’s electricity supply industry. Let me first make it abundantly clear that we are in democracy so there are fundamental human rights. I cannot deny people their rights.

“It’s the right of the Labour to protest peacefully and to come up with their demands, from the perspective they saw what we did. It is clearly allowed, it is legitimate and it is understandable. So we cannot stop them from organizing a peaceful protest or laying down their demands. Let me make that clear. President Bola Tinubu’s administration is also a listening government. 

“We have heard demands, we’re going to look at it, we’ll make further engagements and I believe we’re going to reach a peaceful resolution with the labor because no government can succeed without the cooperation, collaboration and partnership with the Labour unions. So we welcome the peaceful protest and I’m happy that it was not a violent protest. They’ve made their positions known and government has taken in their demands and we’re looking at it. 

“But one thing that I want to state here is from the statistics of those affected by the hike in tariff, the people on the road yesterday, who embarked on the peaceful protests, more than 95% of them are not affected by the increase in the tariff of electricity. They still enjoy almost 70% government subsidy in the tariff they pay because the average costs of generating, transmitting and distributing electricity is not less than N180 today. 

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“A lot of them are paying below N60 so they still enjoy government’s subsidy. So when they say we should reverse the recently increased tariff, sincerely it’s not affecting them. That’s one position”.

Adelabu, however, appealed to the Organised Labour and the entire populace to be patient with the administration in its planned out strategy to restructure the power sector into a standard and more efficient sector, which delivers the desired service to all Nigerians.

According to him, the current administration was aware of the decayed state of the nation’s Power sector, which he said had been so for almost 60 years, adding that the programme of the Tinubu administration is to correct the situation. 

“My appeal again is that they should please not derail or distract our transformation plan for the industry. We have a clearly documented reform roadmap to take us to our desired destination, where we’re going to have reliable, functional, cost-effective and affordable electricity in Nigeria. It cannot be achieved overnight because this is a decay of almost 60 years, which we are trying to correct. 

“Nobody promised us or assured us that the road will be smooth. We knew it’s going to be rough, but we must weather the storm, which is going to be temporary. It’s a lot of sacrifice from everybody; from the government’s side, from the people’s side, from the private sector side. So we must bear this sacrifice for us to have a permanent gain.

“I don’t want us to go back to the situation we were in February and March, where we had very low generation. We all felt the impact of this whereby electricity supply was very low and every household, every company, every institution, felt it. From the little reform that we’ve embarked upon since the beginning April, we have seen the impact that electricity has improved and it can only get better. 

“So I’m appealing to everybody that one should not toy with this before that we have embarked upon, we are aiming somewhere and we will achieve it”, he said.

Also on Tuesday, the Ministry of Power got approvals for the three memoranda it presented before the FEC, all aimed at further strengthening the nation’s power infrastructure nationwide. 

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Adelabu said the first approval is for the procurement of 10 transformers and 10 reactors for the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) at a total cost of $4.8 million and N102 million  saying this will enhance the optimal performance of the national grid, reduce the risk of electrical shock and equipment damage, and protect personnel from the effects of high voltage.

According to him: “The second approval is for the construction of a 93-kilometer transmission lines at Oji River/9th Mile for the 132 KV double circuit transmission line, at a cost of $33.9 million and N10.1 million naira. 

“This project will stabilize the national grid and expand its capacity, in line with the national grid expansion plan and the Presidential Power Initiative to increase the end-to-end capacity of the national grid.

“The third approval is for the supply and installation of 15 units of emergency restoration systems for 330 KV and 132 KV transmission lines, to enable the quick fixing of vandalized and damaged power infrastructure, valued at $14 million. 

“This is a response to the impact of vandalism on power transmission assets, particularly in the Northeast region, where there has been a blackout for the past two weeks due to vandalism.

“The Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) is working to fix the vandalized assets and restore normalcy to the region by the end of the month. 

“The emergency restoration system will ensure 24/7 uninterrupted power supply, and the government is committed to ensuring the stability, sustainability, and cost-effectiveness of power supply, as well as planning for future growth.

“Overall, these approvals demonstrate the government’s commitment to addressing the challenges in the power sector and providing reliable power to citizens, which is critical for economic growth and development”.

Deji Elumoye in Abuja

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