Tariff Hike:We Can’t Guarantee Safety Of Electricity Workers,Says NUEE

Mohammed Shosanya

The National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE),says it cannot guarantee the safety of its members in the employ of electricity distribution companies on account of the recent increase in electricity tariff in the country.

Specifically,the union lamented that its member are at risk of being attacked by people in the community when they visit for disconnections of electricity.

Dominic Igwebike,Acting General Secretary,who conveyed this in a statement,said the recent hike in electricity tariff from N68 /kwh to N225 /kwh is absurd in a country where the majority of the masses are grappling with basic survival and an electricity access rate of about 55%.

He faulted the position of Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commissionthat the hike is attributed to only Band A consumers who make up only 15% of electricity consumers and utilize 40% of the nation’s electricity consumption.

It begs to understand the sensibility of the person(s) that uttered such a statement purporting that it would not affect the general public,he said.

He added:”They need to answer these questions: Who are the Band A consumers? What do they do? Who are the customers of the Band A consumers? Who bears the brunt of the electricity hike?

“The general public is the one that will be most affected by this. They are the customers and end- users of the Band A products and services. The additional costs will be transferred to the common man, so they are indirectly being exploited, notwithstanding their dwindling purchasing power and increasing impoverishment”.

He reasoned that,the hike in the electricity tariff is grossly detrimental to the economic diversification, growth, and well-being of Nigerians,adding that,”a country that genuinely has the interest of its people at heart and wants to grow will ensure that the real sector is given the most support it can get not putting a nail in its coffin”.

He disclosed the Minister of Power and NERC did not consult with the stakeholders in the sector before the increase.

He added:”The Minister of Power has relegated himself as the spokesperson for the DISCOs where he is justifying Cost Reflective Tariffs. What of Service Reflective Tariffs as it relates to consumers? We as a stakeholder don’t know the Energy policy of this present administration.

“As a critical stakeholder in the Power Sector who is concerned with Nigerians getting constant and affordable power supply, we state categorically that the hike in the electricity tariff is not beneficial to Nigerians and should be withdrawn”.

We Can’t Continue To Work In Darkness,UCH Workers Cry Out

Mohammed Shosanya

Staff of University College Hospital (UCH) Ibadan, in Oyo state have lamented the spate of epileptic power supply in the institution,saying they cannot continue to work in darkness.

They spoke on Wednesday during a congress organised by Joint Action Committee (JAC),which is the umbrella body of all the unions in the hospital.

JAC Chairman, Comrade Oludayo Olabampe,while speaking with journalists shortly after the congress noted that the power supply to the hospital has been cut off by Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC) since Tuesday, 19th March, 2024 due to N495m debt.

Olabampe,who spoke on behalf of other staff of the hospital appealed to the federal government, governor Seyi Makinde and other stakeholders to come to the aid of the hospital.

He added that staff of the hospital have been working in a terrible conditions since the power supply was cut off.

He said that the workers will not be able to perform their duties as expected unless the power supply is restored.

He added:”The congress is about briefing our members on the actions we have taken on their behalf to address their welfare while the power outage last since last Tuesday.

“Since Tuesday last week, we have been experiencing total power outage simply because the IBEDC cut our light, they said UCH is owing N495m debt. And they said we must settle a substantial amount before the power can be restored.

“Since that happened, our members have been going through a lot of unbearable conditions to perform their duties. We cannot allow this to continue. So, we felt we must do something to address it. We must let Nigerians know what is happening to UCH. Look at this hospital that served the whole Nigeria. If this is happening to UCH that means it is happening to all Nigerians.

“We want to say that if you come to UCH now you may not get the best of care because of power outage. UCH has been in darkness and nothing is working. We are calling on well to do Nigerians to come to our rescue. People in government. They should help UCH.

“Our members are languishing, they are working live slaves, imagine a situation when you work in a hospital without light. We cannot continue to work in darkness. We don’t want to loose any member.

“Some of our members are exposed to high risks, we cannot pump water, we are using torchlights to work. So, we want to reduce the hazard. We cannot continue to work in darkness”.

Strike: Kaduna Electric Tackles NUEE,Says Action Unjustified

Mohammed Shosanya

The Kaduna Electric,has condemned the ongoing strike action embarked upon by members of the Nigerian Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE),saying the action is unjustified.

Nigerians should also condemned the union’s action,which is worsened by the fact that it commenced during the month of Ramadan,a statement said on Tuesday.

“For the union to choose this path at the very start of the Holy month of Ramadan and inflict more discomfort on hapless Nigerians by embarking on an ill-advised strike and forcing staff from carrying out their legitimate duties says a lot about its motive”,Abdulazeez Abdullahi,Head, Corporate Communication,Kaduna Electric said in the statement sent to Premium News.

The statement explained that the union’s demand for payment of outstanding pension arrears which is the supposed justification for forcing misery on citizens is part of the historic debts accumulated under two previous managements.

The statement expressed displeasure over the failure of the union to prioritize the payments then until now,adding that the development was a clear indication that the union has other motives yet unknown to the power company.

According to the statement,since his assumption of office in January 2024,the administrator has demonstrated willingness to work with the unions to move Kaduna Electric forward.

It also said,that the administrator has held series of meetings with them to get their buy-in into his plans to turn the company around.

It therefore beggars belief why NUEE has chosen the route of industrial action instead of coming round to discuss whatever perceived grievance it may have,the statement said.

It added:”The management’s commitment to employee welfare is unwavering, and we have consistently engaged in open dialogue to address concerns. It is on record that staff enjoyed a salary increment in the CEO’s very first month in office in addition to a commitment to pay salaries when due. He has also committed to a plan to offset all liabilities as more resources become available.

“This strike action does no good to anyone but some individuals whose motive is still unclear. We urge our esteemed customers to disregard it and go about their dealings with us unhindered.”

FG Plans To Disrupt Hunger Protest-NLC

  Mohammed Shosanya
The Nigeria Labour Congress has accused the Federal Government of perfecting plans to disrupt the  February 27 and 28 hunger protest in the country.
The Nigeria Labour Congress had fixed February 27 and 28 to mobilise its members across the country to protest what they feel is unbearable economic hardship on the people, especially with regards to the policies of government since it officially  removed subsidy on fuel.
The Department of State Services DSS also warned the Labour group against staging a protest, citing the possibility of it being hijacked by non state actors to disrupt public peace.
The NLC had reacted to the warning from the DSS said it was offering unsolicited advise.
President of NLC, Joe Ajaero on Sunday, raised the allegations in a statement to the media, saying we would want to inform  Nigerians that the State  has perfected plans to attack our peaceful rallies across the country.
He alleged that one of the groups being primed to attack our peaceful rallies is  by a nebulous name, Nigeria Civil Society Forum (NCSF).
According to the NLC leadership, NCSF is one of the emergency groups put together, funded, promoted and remote-controlled by government to cause violence against our members for electing to peacefully  protest against the hunger in the land.
He said the Nigerian State should know that the solution to our horrible economic situation and hunger is not by suppressing peaceful dissent or inflicting violence on peacefully protesting citizens as the government did in Minna and other cities where its agents tear-gassed and beat up women before locking them up for raising their voice against hunger.
Ajaero said the solution does not lie in the deployment of State -sponsored terror, stressing that the pangs of hunger cannot be cowed by  bullets or tear gas.
He stated:”In light of this, we at the Nigeria Labour Congress and civil society allies are moving ahead with our  protest rallies against economic hardship and insecurity in line with the decision of the National Executive Council.
“As citizens, we have a fundamental right to peaceful protest and history bears us witness that our protests  are always peaceful except in instances of State-engineered violence.
“In light of this, we advise the State  to put on its thinking cap and find solutions to the pains it continues to cause the people instead of  further dehumanising them.
“If it is irrevocably set on the path of violence against us and other peace-loving  Nigerians, it will be making a costly mistake because if we are attacked there will be a total shut down via withdrawal of services by workers. Let no one be deceived, we and other deprived Nigerians cannot easily be intimidated.
“Lest those in power now who may have forgotten be reminded, we faced a more resourceful and  resilient adversary  in order to have democracy. All we are saying now is that; let there be food for the people, _let the people live in safety, let the people live a life of dignity devoid of suffocating  IMF/World Bank economic policies.
“Once again we advise those waiting in the wings to unleash violence on us that this is not about the NLC but about Nigerians who are saying “enough is enough”, about a people who have resolved not to be further pushed into the pit of misery and hopelessness, while a few live in obscene luxury at our collective  expense.
“We are by this statement calling the attention of the international human rights body and the governments of the African Union and the United Nations that the right of the people to  peacefully  protest and demand for freedom from economic slavery and hardship is being threatened by the Nigerian  State.
“We however remain resolute, determined and prepared to express our pain and  grief in a peaceful manner as Nigerians come 27th and 28th of February 2024”.
Kaduna Electric Raises Staff Salaries By 10%

Mohammed Shosanya

Kaduna Electric has announced a 10% increase in salaries across all staff categories.

The increment takes effect fromthis month,Dr. Umar Hashidu, the Chief Executive Officer, said during a recent meeting with the management team.

According to a statement,the salary adjustment comes as a strategic response to the imperative of motivating the staff, aimed at elevating the company’s overall performance despite the considerable challenges it currently faces.

The statement quoted Dr. Hashidu as underscoring that the decision also addresses the prevalent cost of living crisis in the country.

Dr. Hashidu emphasized the Board and Management’s conviction that this salary increment will serve as a catalyst, inspiring staff to redouble their efforts to navigate the company through its current challenges.

He reiterated the Board’s unwavering commitment to prioritizing staff welfare as highlighted by the Board’s Chairperson,Ms. Rahila Thomas, when she led other Board members on a visit to the company recently. He hinted that this initial salary adjustment is part of a broader initiative.

He acknowledged the precarious state of the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI), describing it as being on life support.

Kaduna Electric faces challenges in meeting market obligations and has shown a lackluster performance in compliance with NERC performance indices.

Despite these challenges, Dr. Hashidu expressed confidence that the issues confronting Kaduna Electric are surmountable with collective effort.

He urged all staff members to approach their duties with diligence, citing the positive growth trajectory observed in energy sales during January as a promising indicator.

He implored staff to maintain this momentum until the company achieves a positive turnaround.

Labour Favours N1m As New Minimum Wage

The President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Joe Ajaero, has stated that if the ongoing inflation continues unabated, organised labour might push for a new minimum wage of up to N1 Million for Nigerian workers.

Speaking during an interview with Arise News,he said the demand from organised labour would be influenced by the cost of living which has been increasing since President Bola Tinubu assumed office, notably due to the removal of fuel subsidy and other policies.

He said, “This N1 million may be relevant if the value of the Nigerian (naira) continues to depreciate; if the inflation continues unchecked because the demand of labour is equally dependent on what is happening in the society.

“You will remember that by the time we were contemplating N200,000 (as minimum wage), the exchange rate was about N800/N900 (to a dollar). As we talk today, the exchange rate is about N1,400 or even more.

“Those are the issues that determine the demand and it is equally affecting the cost of living. And we have always said that our demand will be based on the cost of living index. You will agree with me today that even a bag of rice is going for about N60,000/N70,000 or more.

“A bag of locally produced corn is about N56,000 or more. Foodstuff is getting out of reach, now are we going to get a minimum wage that will not be enough for transportation even for one week?

“You have to factor in these issues and that will determine the Federal Government’s commitment to this negotiation. It is not just that they want to give us a minimum wage.

“The old minimum wage will be expiring by April and ordinarily, the Federal Government ought to have set up a committee six months before that time so that negotiation would have commenced but the Federal Government didn’t do that until (recently when) they inaugurated a committee and the committee has not sat.

“It appears we are going to work within one month or two to agree on a figure and I doubt how those ones are going to… especially when you look at the people that the Federal Government assembled as members of the committee.

“They looked at some of the governors that are not paying even the existing minimum wage and even they have a minister of budget who didn’t implement his minimum wage as a governor.

“If you have these people in the government team on the issue of minimum wage, some of us have not seen a bright future in the work of this new minimum wage committee.”

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PENGASSAN Scores Buyers Of Shell’s $2.4bn Assets Low

Mohammed Shosanya

The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN),has reacted to planned acquisition of $2.4billion of onshore assets of Shell Petroleum Development Company Limited (SPDC) by the Renaissance group.

The consortiums consist of ND Western Limited, Aradel Holdings Pic. The Petrolin Group, FIRST Exploration and Petroleum Development Company Limited and the Waltersmith Group.

President of PENGASSAN,Comrade Festus Osifo,and the General Secretary,Lumumba Okugbawa,in a statement,said the group
unknown to the oil workers and thus it’s an assemblage of unknown entities with no proven track record in managing such diverse assets.

“We reject without equivocation all the terms affecting employees that were communicated in the presentation to our members.

“One of the companies that made up the assemblage has a history of subjugating workers and subjecting them to untold hardship as exemplified in the current management of OML 34.

“Another company in the group has a penchant for preventing workers from unionising and thus stiffening their condition of services”,it said.

PENGASSAN also said,any attempt to transfer the assets without resolving issues affecting its members will be met with the stiffest resistance the industry has ever witnessed.

It advised the group to come clean with its intention(s) and be ready to have serious engagement with the association.

It added:”We have communicated to our Shell/SNBO Branches not to be distracted but to focus on the CBA negotiation that is due about a week from now.The industry regulator, JV Asset partners (NNPCL, Non-Operated Asset Partners) and other stakeholders are hereby put on notice”

Steel Ministry Targets Over 500,000 Jobs

Mohammed Shosanya

Prince Shuaibu Abubakar Audu, Honourable Minister of Steel Development, emphasized the ambitious goal of creating over 500,000 jobs within an operational steel industry before the end of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s second term.

In a statement,the Minister highlighted the engagement of nearly 200 youths in the steel industry nationwide within his first four months in office, with additional initiatives in the pipeline.

He underscored the ‘Renewed Hope Agenda,’ initiated by President Tinubu, focusing on economic prosperity, job creation, poverty alleviation, and addressing security challenges.

At the core of this agenda is the revitalization of Nigeria’s steel industry, leading to the establishment of the Ministry of Steel Development in August 2023. Looking ahead to 2024, plans include designing a roadmap for the resuscitation of the steel industry, encompassing a five-year plan for Nigeria’s steel sector revival and a three-year plan for the Ajaokuta steel plant.

International investors have shown commitment, pledging billions of dollars to develop Nigeria’s steel industry, a testament to President Tinubu’s efforts highlighted at global forums like the recent G20 summit in Delhi, India.

The Ministry of Steel Development is actively working to create a conducive operating environment for both local and foreign investors, considering measures such as increased government levies on steel importation to promote import substitution.

Prince Shuaibu expressed gratitude to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for entrusting him with the opportunity to serve and reiterated the commitment to deliver the President’s vision for the Steel Industry in Nigeria.

Foreign Prisoners Working In Nigerian Construction Companies-Senate

Mohammed Shosanya

The National Assembly,Wednesday said
that prisoners from foreign land are working in Nigeria as construction workers.

It also alleged that expatriates are stealing jobs meant for Nigerians in Nigeria

The joint committee of the Senate and House of Representatives on Interior, stated this during the budget defence session with the Minister of the Ministry , Hon Olubunmi Tunji – Ojo.

This is even as the Ministry of Interior disclosed that it surpasses its budgetary target of N600million revenue from issuance of expatriate quotas in the 2023 fiscal year by raking in, N1.195billion from January to October this year.

Lauding the Minister of Interior,the Chairman of the joint committee, Senator Adams Oshiomhole (APC Edo North) said that while it is heartwarming that the Ministry surpassed its revenue targets on issuance of expatriates quotas but its policy is giving room for expatriates to steal jobs meant for Nigerians in Nigeria.

He implored the ministry to regulate issuance of the quota, adding, “your Ministry needs to regulate issuance of the quotas very well as I have on good authority that prisoners from foreign land are working in Nigeria as construction workers .

He added:”This is even different from the age long fraud the oil companies have been carrying out in the country through the policy of expatriate quotas by making our own qualified engineers to work under foreign technicians.

“Many non Nigerians are in the country, some of them live inside containers. I even believe and dare say it that there are foreign prisoners, who are working in Nigeria. They were shipped to our country to serve their prison terms.

“They were being paid according to their country’s minimum wage by the construction industry that brought them. I don’t want to mention the company’s name but if I am provoked, I will mention them.

“Honourable Minister, this is a serious issue, prisoners are not expected to work in their countries if the product or whatever they engage in is meant to be exported.”

In his budget presentation to the joint committee, in 2022 and outgoing 2023 fiscal years, the Minister of Interior explained that the Ministry surpassed its budgetary revenue projections on expatriate quotas and marriage .

He said that while N600bmillion was targeted as revenue to be generated from issuance of expatriate quotas to deserving foreign firms in the country, N1.195billion, has as at October 31, 2023, generated from it.

He said: “Aside the projected revenue from expatriate quotas that had been surpassed by about N600m extra, the N380million projected revenue from marriage, has also been surpassed by over N500million with N892.774million realized as at October 31, 2023.”

The Minister assured the committee members that the Ministry had already come up with project for job protection for Nigerians .

ASCSN Faults Campaign For Cancellation Of Directors’ Promotion Exams

Mohammed Shosanya
The Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN), has faulted recent campaign by a group for the cancellation of the recent  selection process for the appointment of Permanent Secretaries in the Federal Civil Service.
Comrade Tommy Etim Okon,National President of ASCSN, said it was disturbing, that the group sought to circumvent meritocracy in the Federal Civil Service, with regard to the very critical task of selecting eligible directors for appointment to the post of Permanent Secretaries.
At a news conference in Abuja,he expressed disappointment that a “faceless group,” parading themselves as a group of senior civil servants, was calling for cancellation of the promotion examinations for Directors aspiring for the position of Permanent Secretaries in the Federal Civil Service.
He added:“The Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria is a registered and recognised trade union listed in the Third Schedule of the Trade Unions Act as well as by the Federal Republic of Nigeria Official Gazette.
“Therefore, it is absolutely unacceptable and questionable for the purported group to propagate the alleged comments of faceless individuals who claim to be civil servants as though their opinions are those of the entirety of the Service.
“It will be recalled that Chapter 2, Sections 020811-020813 on promotion in the Revised Public Service Rules prescribes the eligibility criteria and selection process for the post of Permanent Secretary as follows:
“The candidate must: – be a Director on Grade Level (GL) 17 and in the mainstream of the Federal Civil Service; have been verified on the IPPIS portal/ platform as having been confirmed as a staff of the Federal Government of Nigeria; be at least two (2) years on the post of Director;
“Not be retiring on or before the 31st of December of the following year; provide proof of indigeneship of the State where the vacancy exists; Indigeneship of a State must not be by marriage in case of a female Civil Servant; and not have a pending disciplinary action against him”.
He wondered how the group “which claims to be abreast of issues in the civil service, displays an unpardonable level of ignorance about the procedures for appointment of Permanent Secretaries as provided in the revised PSR”.
He  advised that “if the Service will not be paying lip service in entrenching meritocracy in the system, priority should be accorded to the quality of the candidates and not their quantity.
“The Service must take deliberate steps to depart from the culture of merely filling vacancies to putting round pegs in round holes forthwith.
“We, are aware that the Office of the Civil Service of the Federation under its current leadership, is driving a number of laudable reforms in a conscious attempt to salvage the poor image of the Service as an inefficient institution of government”.
 He also commended President Bola Tinubu for his support to Public Sector reforms.
He said: “Therefore, we refuse and will resist in its entirety, any calculated act to encourage mediocrity, disregard for extant rules and unprofessionalism in the Service”