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PRIVATISATION: ELECTRICITY WORKERS THREATEN SHOWDOWN WITH FG

By NBF News
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President Goodluck Jonathan
Electricity workers in the country and the Federal Government may soon head for a collision course over the planned privatisation of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria.

President Goodluck Jonathan had recently announced plans by the Federal Goverment to privatise the PHCN.

However, the General Secretary, National Union of Electricity Employees, Mr. Joe Ajaero, said at a retreat for NUEE officers in Kaduna on Tuesday, that the Federal Government's decision to privatise the nation's power sector would be detrimental to the development of the country.

Ajaero argued that nowhere in the world was the power sector entrusted into the hands of private investors.

He expressed the preparedness of electricity workers to confront the government to forestall the planned privatisation, adding that the workers would go ahead with the struggle and would not mind being hurt in the process.

The NUEE boss accused the Presidential Adviser on Power, Prof. Barth Nnaji, of attempting to take over the nation's power sector through devious and dubious means.

He further alleged that being an interested party in the nation's power sector, Nnaji's private company, like the other 30 companies licensed in 2005, had failed to add any megawatt of electricity to the national grid.

Ajaero stressed that it would be completely wrong for the government to hand over PHCN to a few individuals, adding, 'We are saying they should tell us where that is done in the world. But they have not been able to give us one example.

'We have decided to confront this issue of grandstanding by the government head on. We won't be surprised if we get hurt or bruised, but if we fail to fight, we will die and if we fight, we will survive. So, if there is need for us to fight, we will fight. Part of the problems we are facing is that other organisations that were confronted with similar problems did not start the fight. If they had started the fight, we would have been able to consolidate.'

Ajaero said, 'The so-called reform agenda is not restricted to PHCN. The health sector, the local government and all other utilities will be privatised and reformed. If we don't start the fight, those other sectors will also suffer. Ultimately, we have decided to engage them.

'The number of militants in Nigeria is not up to 10,000; but we have about 50,000 people ready and willing to fight this. What we are saying is that; let them hear that Nigeria does not belong to them. Nigeria does not belong to only one man and there is no monopoly of knowledge.

'As it concerns the sector, we have confronted them to tell us where in this world the private sector develops the electricity sector. But it is very unfortunate that Jonathan allowed himself to be hijacked by the so-called private sector, the parasitic private sector, the contract class led by Prof. Bart Nnaji, who own Geometrics in Aba.'

He added, 'In 2005 when they deregulated the sector, we didn't challenge them not to give people licences. They gave out licences and those given the licences have not generated one megawatt and Prof. Nnaji is one of them and he decided to come through the back door for PHCN to be handed over to them and not for them to participate.

'Since 2005, they have been parading around the place saying they are building power stations, which we have not seen. What they now want is for PHCN to be handed over to them because they are the friends of government.

'I mention Prof. Barth Nnaji because he is the Presidential Adviser on Power and a symbol of the private sector. If you check the 30 companies that were licensed, they are on the same level with PHCN and some of them have not even started.'