Drama As Electricity Workers Lock Out Minister Over Tariff Hike


May 21, 2024

The National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) and the Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies (SSAEAC) took a bold step on Monday, shutting down the Power Ministry headquarters in Abuja.

This drastic action was in response to the ministry’s unilateral decisions, which the unions deemed detrimental to the power sector.

According to Igwebike Dominic, acting General Secretary of NUEE, the shutdown would continue until the government listened to their demands or called a meeting to address their concerns. The unions accused the Minister of Power, Adebayo Adelabu, and the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) of running the sector without consulting critical stakeholders.
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One of the major grievances was the unilateral tariff increase of about 300%, implemented without stakeholders’ dialogue. The unions also condemned the proposed review of workers’ salaries, which they felt did not receive the desired considerations. Furthermore, they criticized the illegal deduction of 46.7% from TCN revenue for project execution by DISCOs, questioning the privatization system being adopted.

The unions demanded a reversal of the tariff increase, a review of workers’ salaries, and an immediate stop to all obnoxious deductions from TCN. They also called for electricity rebates for staff in the sector and unionization of Gencos as provided by the Labour Act.

In a letter to the Minister, jointly signed by both unions and dated May 20, 2024, the associations stated that the government took a unilateral and detrimental decision to liquidate TCN without consulting stakeholders. They expressed disappointment at the utmost disregard for critical stakeholders in the power sector by the minister and his agency’s unilateral and detrimental decisions.
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The unions accused the minister and NERC of running the sector without recourse to critical stakeholders in the power industry since his assumption of office a year ago. They described the move as provocative and unacceptable and vowed to vehemently resist any attempt to cede those infrastructures to cronies for political patronage.

The unions also stated that the mischievous deduction of eight per cent of the revenue generated as technical losses from TCN was a political calculation to blackmail the company and its management to make it look inefficient. They called this move disheartening and said it would, in the long term, hurt the entire electricity value chain.

They further condemned the vexatious order from NERC on a monthly deduction of N2bn from the account of TCN as unrealistic and an attempt to run TCN down, portray the management as incompetent, and take advantage of the failures for selfish political gains.

In response, the Minister of Power, through his media aide, Bolaji Tunji, assured that the ministry was handling the issue and that the permanent secretary would meet with the unions to address their concerns. However, the unions remained resolute, determined to fight for their rights and the well-being of the power sector.
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As the standoff continued, the nation waited with bated breath, wondering how this would impact the already struggling power sector and the citizens who rely on it. One thing was clear: the unions would not back down until their demands were met.

The shutdown of the Power Ministry headquarters was a significant move, as it highlighted the unions’ determination to fight for their rights and the rights of the power sector workers. The government’s response would be crucial in resolving this standoff and ensuring a stable power supply for the nation.

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