NLC WANTS POWER SECTOR PROBE, CALMS FASHOLA WASTED N740B

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to do an immediate and comprehensive audit of all monies so far spent in government effort at reviving the power sector in the country since 1999 which it said has failed to yield result, but rather produced several billionaires as a result of diversion of the funds.

In a communique made available to newsmen at the end of its Central Working Committee meeting, the Congress is asking the government to immediately inaugurate the National Minimum Wage negotiating committee in view of the impoverishment of the Nigerian worker.

The communique signed by the NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba and General Secretary, Dr, Peter Oyo-Eson also reviewed the continued poor service delivery in the power sector and observed that since the current administration came to power in May 2015, it had given N740 Billion to the power sector as intervention fund without much to show for it. CWC, therefore, cannot comprehend the rationale behind the administration’s preparedness to give a further N39 billion bailout to DISCos for metering purpose.

“There is no guarantee that the DISCOs will not go back cap in hand to government again on the issue of provision of meters as the minister of power recently disclosed that DISCOs need about N220 billion to provide meters to Nigerians.

“Given that one of the conditions precedents for the privatization by the last administration was that the new owners would provide meters for customers within 24 months or so, CWC felt that the defaulting DISCOs ought to face sanctions and not additional bailout.

“CWC, therefore, call for an urgent and proper auditing of the money spent in the effort to revive the power sector since 1999 which rather than transform into increased light provision has produced tens, if not hundreds of billionaires as a result of the diversion of the funds. Nothing illustrates this better than a recent report which showed that in the almost 18 years of the current democratic dispensation, over 11 trillion has been expended from the public treasury to lift the power sector to no avail.

“The meeting called on the federal government to inaugurate the minimum wage committee immediately as the committee ought to have been put in place several months ago.

The CWC also wants the federal government to compel state governors to properly account for the bail-out funds they received from the federal government as well as the two tranches of the Paris Club refund which was supposed to be used for the payment of salaries and pensions, but diverted to other uses.

It also asked the government not to release the third and final tranche of the Paris Club refund to state governors until they make a concrete commitment to use the money to settle outstanding salaries, allowances and pension of workers and retirees in the country.

The Congress regretted that government has not lived up the expectation of Nigerians and are in the habit of reneging on signed agreements with unions, pointing out that the ongoing strike by members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities was avoidable.

“It reviewed the continuous non-payment of months of outstanding salaries of workers in some states of the federation as well as various arrears of pension which has also run into several months which is the actual situation despite President Muhammadu Buhari’s passion to address this matter since he assumed office by giving bail out to governors to clear this shameful state of affairs with the nation’s workforce.

“The Federal government has further released tranches of Paris Club refund to states government with specific appeals to the and commitment by the governors forum to use the refund for the settlement of arrears of salaries and pension owed by various states to their civil servants and retirees.

“Despite the President’s laudable intervention notwithstanding, states like Kogi, Benue and Bayelsa are still owing workers 5-10 months in salaries arrears and pension. There are other states like Kaduna and Zamfara that have refused to disclose any information about how it had utilized the bailout and Paris Club refund despite demand from unions and the general public.

“Several efforts by unions and workers in the affected states to know what these state governors are using these funds for have yielded little or no results.”

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