Even after the near successful privatization of Nigeria’s power sector, the Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies, SSAEAC, has maintained that privatization is not the answer to the nation’s power problems.
The position of SSAEAC was made known by its President-General, Mr. Bede Opara, who said that the association based its position on the fact that the companies have not performed in a big network as Nigeria.“Our position is that privatization will not give us an answer to our power problems. But we do not want to rule out that the new companies will come in and turn things around. They have that capability, if they are credible companies. I use the word ‘if’ advisedly because we have not tested any of the companies. And most of the companies involved, we not seen where they have performed in the power sector. And as such, we only have to keep our fingers crossed,” he said.
According to Opara, the companies need to prove that they can function in the Nigerian environment, “We have not seen them perform in a network that is as big as Nigeria .We may not probably look at a company that has operated in Liberia, for instance, because the country’s entire power sector is not up to one transformer in my office. Liberia’s total generation is about 40 megawatts. As I said earlier, we cannot use companies which operate in such environment to compare with what is happening here.
Existing PHCN workers
“Let’s also say that if the new companies coming to take over PHCN apply state-of-the-art technology in the power sector, they may do well if they have the fund. We do not know about their capability because we cannot say this is the place we have seen them perform; no pedigree we know of. Since so many of them are employing some of our people including some of our retired engineers; yes. So many of them – the major workforce they have are retired engineers from PHCN and our people know what the problems are. I believe that if they have the will to perform, they can do well. It’s the feeling and that is why we are keeping our fingers crossed,” he said.
The President-General also said that out of the N400 billion expected to be paid to PHCN workers, about N120 billion has been disbursed so far.
As regards the faith of the workers after privatization, he stated that since privatization issues cropped up about 10 years, the Association made a constitution that mandated every successor company to have a branch of the Union, so as to protect the welfare of the workers effectively.“When we started talking about privatization, in 2003, 2004 and thereabout that was when we decided to register SSAEAC, as a full-fledged trade union. And in that registration, part of our constitution says that we should have branches in every successor Company or allied company. We had already prepared ourselves for privatization; our branch chairman and secretary respectively, will oversee what goes in these companies; vis- a- vis, workers’ welfare. We have mandated the various branch executives of our union to get prepared to negotiate new packages because new companies are coming to take over.” he said.
While SSAEAC may be skeptical about the success of the privatization, President Goodluck Jonathan has assured that Nigerians will soon begin to enjoy positive benefits of the privatization of power sector with the successful conclusion of the sale of the country’s power generation and distribution companies.
In a statement issued by the presidential media aide, Dr. Reuben Abati, President Jonathan confirmed that all successful bidders for the power generation and distribution companies had completed the payments required to complete the process, which he said, was conducted in conformity with globally accepted standards and best practices.
The statement read in part: “We are fully conscious of the centrality and importance of adequate power supply for our developmental efforts. We have challenges in the sector but we are constantly working to overcome them.“We are currently in a transition phase in which the sector is being positively transformed. The sale of our generations and distribution companies is almost concluded. Finally, everyone has paid and in the shortest possible time, our power sector will take on a much more positive life of its own for the benefit of all Nigerians,” he added.
Information from Vanguard was used in this report.