NLC seeks FG probe of power sector spending, sanction DISCOs, payment of salaries

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The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to probe the amount of monies spent since 1999 to revive the power sector in Nigeria.
The congress specifically said distribution companies who defaulted with the agreement which they signed to metered Nigerians within a specified period be sanctioned.
According to a communique after the Central Working Committee (CWC) of the congress in Abuja recently, the group also lamented that despite billion of dollars expended to improve the sector, the citizens are left in darkness.
The communique which was jointly signed by the President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba and general secretary Comrade Peter Ozo-Eson rejected plans by the Federal Government to give additional N39b to Distribution Companies for metering purpose.
“The meeting observed that since the current administration came to power in May 2015, it had given N740 billion to the power sector as intervention fund, without much to show for it. The CWC therefore cannot comprehend the rationale behind the administration’s preparedness to give a further N39 billion to bailout the Distribution Companies (DISCOS) for metering purposes.
“There is no guarantee that the Discos won’t go back cap-in-hand to government again on the issue of provision of meters, as the Minister of Power recently disclosed that Discos need about N220 billion to provide meters to Nigerians.
“Given that one of the conditions precedent for the privatisation by the last administration was that the new owners would provide meters for customers within 24 or so months, CWC felt that the defaulting DISCOS ought to face sanctions and not additional bailout.
“The situation in the sector rather than improve, is deteriorating. For instance, in the FCT, AEDC are busy disconnecting street lights. Across the country, artificial billing is still going on, and most industries have been subjected to perpetual use of private generators to power their plants. This has made production in Nigeria too expensive and non-competitive.
“CWC therefore called for an urgent and proper auditing of the money spent in the effort to revive the power sector since 1999, which rather than transform into increased light provision, has produced tens, if not hundreds, of billionaires, as a result of the diversion of the budgeted funds to private pockets. Nothing illustrates this better”.
Meanwhile the congress has written to President Muhammadu Buhari to prevail on state governors who are still owing workers despite Paris club refunds and the bailout funds given to them.
They specifically told the president not to release the third trench of the Paris club refund to the affected governors, until there is a commitment to use same to settle workers salaries.
“The CWC observed further with dismay that Mr. President’s laudable interventions notwithstanding, States like Kogi, Benue, Bayelsa are still owing workers 5 – 10 months in salaries arrears and pension. There are other cases like Kaduna and Zamfara states that have refused to disclose any information about how it had utilised the bailout and Paris clubs refund despite demand from the unions and the general public.
“The CWC stated that several efforts by unions and workers in the affected States to know what these State Governors are using these funds for, have yielded little or no results. The CWC therefore, directed the Congress leadership to write Mr President, to ensure that the Governors are made to transparently account for the bail outs given by the Federal Government, as well as the two tranches of the Paris Club refunds.
“The meeting also resolved to call on Mr President to direct the Minister of Finance not to release the 3rd and final tranche of the Paris Club refund, till the Governors give a concrete commitment to use it to pay the backlog of salaries and pensions, through a transparent process”.

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