NLC Ajaero bemoans Nigeria’s low megawatts despite billions invested in electricity

By Tony Adibe

The President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Joe Ajaero has bemoaned the low megawatts which Nigeria is generating, in spite of the billions of naira the federal government claimed to have invested in electricity over the years.

Comrade Ajaero spoke while giving a goodwill message during the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE), 7th Quadrennial/ 12 Delegates Conference themed, “Workers Over Profit”, held in Enugu.

Ajaero, said it was a very disturbing development that Nigeria “is still running low in megawatts”, lamenting that no nation can develop without electricity. The NLC President also regretted that over the years, “billions of Naira have been pumped into the power sector yet Nigeria is still grappling with 4,000 megawatts of electricity.”

But Ajaero blamed IMF and World Bank that now want Nigeria to totally remove subsidy on electricity just as they ill-advised the Nigeria government to remove fuel subsidy as well as devalue the Nigeria, advice that has not produced good results for the masses.

He said: “We have an endless transition in the power sector. All the billions being pumped into the power sector resulted in zero megawatts. “Today, the IMF and the World Bank are asking the Nigeria government to remove subsidy in electricity tariff.

“Up till tomorrow, the IMF and the World Bank will continue to dictate to us. They are telling Nigeria to completely remove subsidy on electricity. What’s their interest? Why can’t the IMF and World Bank tell the US government to remove subsidy from wheat? The US is the biggest exporter of wheat.”

But in his speech, the Enugu State Governor Dr Peter Mbah, advised the delegates to be very objective in their choice to elect the leaders who would pilot the affairs of their union in future.

“Be wise in your voting. Don’t be parochial in your voting. Vote for comrades that are tested and trusted; someone who will be of national interest. Remember that whenever you gather for elections, it’s Nigeria that is gathering, and your gathering is of national significance,” said Governor Mbah, who was represented by the General Manager, Rural Electricity, Enugu State, Engr. Ezeoha Christopher.

Governor Mbah assured the delegates of their safety and security, stressing that the state government has invested so much in security of lives and property.

However, the National President of National Union of Electricity Employees, (NUEE), Engr. Martin Ikechukwu Uzoegwu has urged the Nigeria government to encourage and harness the abundant renewable energy source in the country and do away with fossil fuel so as to improve power generation in the country.

Engr. Uzoegwu gave the advice in a farewell address during the 7th Quadrennial/ 12 Delegates Conference of the Union. Uzoegwu pointed out that when renewable energy source replaces fossil fuel, it would reduce the climate change in Nigeria as the world is moving towards energy transition.

He said: “Government should encourage and harness the abundant Renewable Energy Source as against the use of fossil fuel to improve power generation and reduce the effect of climate change in Nigeria as the world is moving towards just Energy Transition.”

The NUEE boss, while urging the government to shift from fossil fuel to renewable energy source, also called on the government to consider a total review of the privatisation of the power sector, saying that the exercise was a huge failure that did not meet the expectations of Nigerians in terms of energy demands and tariff.

He bemoaned the fact that the government which ought to have regulated the energy sector, rather looked the other way while investors throttled Nigerians.

“I strongly call for total review of the privatisation of the power sector as the entire exercise was a gross failure and did not meet the expectations of the Nigerian people regarding energy demands, affordable tariff, power availability, ease of procurement of prepayment meters.

“Unfortunately, the government which be the regulator looks the other way while the so-called investors smiled to the banks to the detriment of the Nigerian people who are compelled to pay for darkness,” he said.

Uzoegwu also used the occasion to condemn the dastardly manner Comrade Ajaero was manhandled in Imo State during the 2023 general elections, pointing out that the perpetrators of the wicked act should be brought to book to assuage the organised labour.

In his speech, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), Engr. Sule Ahmed Abdulaziz said that the power sector “holds a pivotal position in driving economic development, making forums like this essential for harnessing insights and crafting solutions.”

He urged the participants to recognize the indespensable role of electricity employees in translating ideas into tangible outcomes as they convene to deliberate on the challenges and opportunities within the industry, and the way forward.

Abdulaziz said: “Despite facing a myriad of challenges, including vandalism, insurgency, terrain difficulties, and funding constraints, among others, that negatively impact job execution in the sector, electricity workers have continued to demonstrate unwavering dedication to their duties.”

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