Federal Gov’t Begs Labour Unions Against Derailing Power Sector Reforms

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The labour unions in the country have been urged to be cautious not to derail the Federal Government’s transformation plan for the power sector, which requires the current sacrifice to achieve the desired service.

Minister of Power, Bayo Adelabu made the appeal while addressing State House correspondents at the State House after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) presided over by President Bola Tinubu meeting on Tuesday.

The minister assured the organised labour that the demands they placed before the government during their protest on Monday are being considered.

LEADERSHIP recalls that leaders of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) had on Monday led their members on peaceful protests in different parts of the country, picketing the activities of agencies and institutions under the Ministry of Power with a demand for the reversal of the recent increase in electricity tariff.

However, reacting to the demands by the Labour unions, Adelabu noted that the Federal Government had noted their grievances, received their demands and would be engaging further with them, emphasising that President Bola Tinubu-led 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 a 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 organising 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 labour 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 the 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 (Monday), 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 cost of generating, transmitting and distributing electricity is not less than N180 today.

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

He, however, urged the Organised Labour and the public to be patient with the administration’s strategy to restructure the Power sector, aiming to make it more efficient and deliver 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 was 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. 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.

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

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

According to the Minister of Power, 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 naira, 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.

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

This project is targeted at stabilising the national grid and expanding 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 vandalised and damaged power infrastructure valued at $14 million.

This is a response to the impact of vandalism on power transmission assets, particularly in the North-East 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 vandalised 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.

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