Proposed blackout: FG suspends promotion interview, silent on ex-PHCN staff benefits

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… Any power disruption will have dire consequences on already fragile economy — Fadipe

… FG should avoid grounding dwindling economy — Eleojo

By Uthman Salami and Ariemu Ogaga, Abuja

The Federal government has suspended the proposed promotion interview for principal managers to the position of Assistant General Managers and General Managers following protest and picketing by the workers’ union, thereby charging the electricity workers to shelve their proposed indefinite strike action.

The Managing Director, Transmission Company of Nigeria Dr Sule Abdulaziz made the appeal in a letter to the workers after the union in a circular had vowed to cripple operations of the TCN nationwide.

Making his appeal in a statement, Dr Abdulaziz said, “We are pleased to inform you that management has suspended the said proposed interview for those on acting appointment of Assistant General Managers and General Managers while we conclude discussion with the board.

“On the other two issues: circular from the office of Head of Service on stigmatisation of the defunct PHCN staff; payment of entitlement of ex-PHCN staff by market operator, the management has contacted the Honourable Minister of Power for his further action.

“In view of this development, we appeal to your union to stay in action; please accept the assurances of our highest regards.”

Recall that Manufacturers Association of Nigeria had expressed fear over the increasing cost of Diesels, which they claimed was affecting their production costs, forcing many others to shut down their operations.

The National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) members yesterday stormed the TCN headquarters in Abuja while complaining about the alleged failure of the Federal Government to pay the entitlement of former staff of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) in December 2019.

However, stakeholders and observers have called for caution, warning that any nationwide electricity disruption would lead to dire consequences on an economy that had been battling with various operational challenges considering the skyrocketed price of Diesel.

The aggrieved workers under the aegis of the national union of electricity employees NUEE said this is a prelude to an indefinite strike action expected to commence on August 17.

They made the warning on proposed strike known through a circular entitled “call to action,” the general secretary of NUEE, Joe Ajaero, directed them to ensure total compliance, vowing to paralyze operations of TCN nationwide over anti-masses activities.

“You are hereby enjoined to mobilize immediately for a serious picketing of TCN Headquarters and stations nationwide over the directive by the TCN Board that all PMs in acting capacity going to AGM must appear for a promotion interview,” the circular read.

“This directive is in contravention of our conditions of service and career progression paths, and unilaterally done without the relevant stakeholders.

“This action takes effect from Tuesday 16th August 2022 and total withdrawal of services commences on Wednesday 17th August 2022. Ensure full compliance in all the stations nationwide.”

Recall that On May 18, the union issued a 14-day ultimatum to the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, MD/CEO.

In the circular titled “Unresolved issues on the year 2021 promotion exercise and others,” the union threatened to down tools at the expiration of the ultimatum if its grievances were not addressed.

Any power disruption will have dire consequences on fragile economy — Fadipe

On his part, the Chief Executive Officer of Sage Consulting & Communications, Mr. Oyebode Fadipe said workers should exercise restraint as power supply disruption will have dire consequences on Nigeria’s already fragile economy.

He warned that the issue of promotion interview is not enough to throw the Nation into possible blackout.

According to him, “The issue of the planned industrial action by the National Union of Electricity Employees(NUEE) is one that should be of concern to stakeholders and concerned citizens.

“Unless it is an issue that organised labour thinks will cause very serious damage to the overall interest of their members, they usually don’t rush to undertake a picketing action.

“Often times, they would have been engaging in the background and if for any reason they think that they are not getting the right response, they resort to the industrial action of this nature.

“Perhaps, this is what has led to this action because there is no record in the public space to show that there had been any dispute between the NUEE and the management of the TCN and the government.

“The only issue in the public space to the best of my knowledge has to do with the  Board of TCN.

“But having said that, I think everyone has to exercise some restraint when it comes to the issue of anything that will disrupt power supply in the country.

“Although end users of electricity do not seem to be missing the power sector, even the little that is available should not be disrupted.

“I think that the issue of promotion should not be one that should be allowed to throw the entire country into blackout for the shortest time.

“We currently run a fragile economy that reacts swiftly to any form of system disturbance, which could occur as a result of this type of action.

“We must, however commend the federal government for taking the bold step of appealing to the Union to give them two weeks to deal with the issue while they put their picketing action in abeyance for now,” he stated.

…FG should avoid grounding dwindling economy — Eleojo

Speaking on the scheduled nationwide blackout, in a chat with Nigerian NewsDirect, an energy, Agroconsultant and foremost Nigeria Bamboo Expert, Mr Eleojo Joseph said Federal Government should take drastic action to address the demands of electricity workers if not Nigeria’s economy will be grounded.

In his words, “The planned strike by electricity workers is most unfortunate considering the importance of electricity to Nigerians. It clearly shows that the Government has totally lost control on all fronts.

“There is virtually no sector that will not be affected by the planned strike. The economy is already on its knees and will go completely comatose if the industrial action is observed.

“The Government should as a matter of urgency call an emergency meeting with the union and see the possibility of averting this national calamity that will further impoverish Nigerians considering the high cost of diesel.

“How long will Nigerians continue to suffer? This is pathetic and embarrassing to Nigerians and the Government,” he stated.