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Yuletide: Blackout looms nationwide

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Reps wade into energy workers’ strike …

NIGERIANS have been advised to brace up for a total power blackout nationwide during activities to mark the forthcoming New Year celebrations.

Deputy Minority Leader of House of Representatives and Member Representing Oji River, Awgu and Ani Nri Federal Constituency, Toby Okechukwu, gave the warning yesterday while expressing the fear that on-going industrial action by National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) may worsen recent reduction in power supply.

Okechukwu spoke while moving a motion under ‘Matters of Urgent Public Importance’ at House plenary which was presided over by Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila yesterday.

According to him, if urgent actions were not taken, Nigerians may end the remaining part of 2019 and celebrate the New Year in a total blackout, recalling that a petition was written by NUEE to electricity distribution and generating companies to warn of a nationwide strike if their demands were not met.

“A petition, dated Nov. 7, was written to the Minister of Power by the NUEE and copied to all DISCOS and GENCOS, where the union warned, and gave a 21-day ultimatum to declare a nationwide strike if their demands were not met by the electricity companies.

These include non-payments of salary arrears, remittance of pension deductions, refusal to pay over 2,000 disengaged workers of the ex-PHCN staff since 2013, underpayment of over 50,000 ex-PHCN staff and casualisation and outsourcing of workers. NUEE accused the Ministry of Power of failing to respond to their strike notification letter which expired on December 10.

The union, having exhausted every avenue for resolution of the dispute, has no other option than to withdraw services, without further notice. Their resolve to go on with the strike without further notification came as a result of the information by a power sector consultant, Rahila Thomas, wherein she stated that GENCOS and DISCOS direly need N1.2 trillion bailout to improve services,” he said.

Although NUEE members vowed to go on a nationwide strike after expiration of their 21-day ultimatum to the Minister of Power, Saleh Mamman, House of Representatives says it will today meet with heads of Ministries of Power, Labour and the National Pension Commission to intervene in the industrial action by NUEE.

 

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