NLC kicks against FG’s proposed N38 bailout for DISCOs

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on Tuesday faulted the Federal Government’s decision to offer N38 billion bailout to electricity distribution companies for procurement of pre-paid metres describing the move as ill-conceived.
The labour union said it was wrong of the Muhammadu Buhari administration to offer a lifeline to the DISCOs when there are no visible signs of improvement in the power sector despite government pumping N660 billion into it.

Ayuba Wabba, NLC President who made the comments during the inauguration of the newly elected executive of the Labour Correspondent Association of Nigeria in Abuja on Tuesday, said rather than commit more funds to the DISCOs; the Federal government should undertake a holistic review of the privatization of the power sector undertaken by the last administration.

Wabba wondered why the Buhari administration would consider committing N38 billion of public funds as bailout to the electricity distribution companies, which were almost on the verge of collapse.

He said that the problem of the power sector had nothing to do with lack of resources as the government had committed N11 trillion to the power sector reforms without achieving the objective of providing stable power supply in the country.

Wabba said that the major issues affecting the country was accountability, transparency and others relating to governance.

The NLC boss decried the situation whereby Ethiopia, which spent $10 billion to build its power plants, was exporting power to neighbouring countries whereas, which had expended more had nothing to show for it without nobody arrested for the waste of public resources.

“One of the things affecting our country today is the issue of accountability. Every other issue can directly or indirectly be linked with the issue of good governance. The state level is even worst and that is our challenge. Take for instance, the power sector. I was really amazed when, yesterday , I was going through some of the issues we need to campaign on and I realized that the present government has already committed about N660billion in form of intervention to a sector that is already comatose without corresponding inputs and attendances. Even on the issue of metering, they are proposing to give a bailout to the DISCOS.

“It is obvious that we are going in the wrong direction. It has been made clear that it is not about resources. If in about 16 years, we have so far committed about N11 trillion to the power sector reforms and yet, what we have day in day out is numerous challenges of lack of power. Even within the city of Abuja, the Discos are busy disconnecting street lights.

“The real issue here is actually the issue of good governance, transparency and accountability. We saw the example of Ethiopia. With less than $10 billion, they have built a power plant that is now generating power and even selling to neigbouring countries.

“But in the context of Nigeria N11 trillion has been committed and nobody is asking questions and we are still committing public resources.”

The NLC president said if the electricity firms lacked the capacity to deliver, the process should be reversed noting that it would not be too late to do so.

He said it was regrettable that while South Africa was already looking beyond 40,000 megawatts, Nigerian was oscillating between 5000 and 6000 megawatts.