Nigerians may be in for a nationwide blackout from today, December 11 as electricity workers embark on an indefinite strike.
The industrial action is declared by the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE).
According to the union the decision to down tools was the only option as the Federal Government failed to make itself available for dialogue with the union to resolve the lingering industrial crisis in the sector.
Assistant Secretary General of NUEE Anthony Sule said the 21-day ultimatum given to Minister of Power Saleh Mamman expired at midnight on Tuesday, leaving the union no other option but to embark on the strike.
Sule made this development known in a statement issued in Jos, the Plateau State capital.
The statement read in part: “The ministry of power has failed to resolve some issues affecting members of the union since 2013 when the power sector was privatised especially issues that have to do with the over 2,000 disengaged former PHCN workers and their pay off.”
He mentioned some of the unresolved issues as illegal transfer of union properties to power investors and the alleged refusal by some distribution companies (DisCos) to remit deducted contributory pension of their members of staff to pension managers.
He noted that these issues were contained in a memo to the minister dated 7th November, 2019.
Meanwhile, General Secretary of NUEE Joe Ajaero said on Tuesday night that it was regrettable that the Ministry of Power failed to respond positively to the strike notice.
According to him, the only response from the ministry was the letter sent to the union on November 18 in which the minister assured the union that something would be done immediately he settled down.
He pointed out that after waiting, the union again wrote the minister on December 6 adding that up till close of work on Tuesday, nothing had been done.
“The strike letter was sent to the Ministry of Power and there was one letter they wrote, saying the minister is not in the country and that he is still studying the situation. They said the minister would look into everything, that is all,” he added.
He said the union made sure that it sent its letter to all the relevant authorities in the power sector, including security agencies.
He said the strike notice was published in one of the national dailies to ensure that no one would claim not to have seen it.
“I can assure you, the strike will commence any time from now,” he vowed
Ajaero said the union had given more than enough opportunity for dialogue on the issues but that nothing was forthcoming from the government.
The NewsGuru quoted an unnamed source in the power sector as saying that the GenCos and DisCos were in dire need of N1.2 billion bailout to improve services.
He also said one of the stakeholders, the Eko Distribution Company, had reached out to the union showing areas it had complied with its workers’ demands.
Ajero said notwithstanding the efforts of the Eko DisCo, its services would still be affected since generation companies supply electricity to DisCos.