INAUGURATION OF NELMCO BOARD IS A MOVE FOR ANOTHER BAILOUT AND A POSSIBLE TRANSFER OF DISCOs TO ANOTHER SET OF “PRIVATE INVESTORS”
# CARE insists that privatisation is a failure and reiterates its call for a renationalisation of POWER SECTOR under a democratic control of electricity workers and consumers
# We also call for the implementation of the TCN workers’ demands
The attention of the Coalition for Affordable and Regular Electricity, CARE, has been drawn to the news of a recent inauguration of a board known as Nigeria Electricity Liability Management Ltd, NELMCO, by federal government through the office of the Vice-President, Yemi Osibajo.
According to a public statement published on August, 22nd, 2022 and signed on behalf of the vice president by his senior special assistant on media, Laolu Akande, the inauguration of the NELMCO board was fundamentally conceived to “enhance the FG ongoing effort to resolve the liabilities relating to tariff shortfalls for power distribution companies nationwide”.
CARE faults the reported basis for the inauguration of NELMCO board because it gives a false impression that the abysmal performance of DISCOS since the privatisation of power sector in 2013 is due to poor tariff. The Nigerian electricity tariff which was recently hiked by over 100% without official notification to the citizens by the Buhari-led government through National Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, is now between #54.22/Kwh and #64.67/Kwh.
The current electricity tariff in Nigeria is one of the highest in the sub-Saharan Africa and far above what many Nigerian working people can afford. The most unfortunate is that the high tariff has failed to translate into any meaningful improvement in term of performance in the power sector.
Take for instance, the megawatt output of the Generating Companies known as GENCOs has been hovering below 5,000MW with incessant collapse of the national grid while the distribution companies known as (DISCOs), are even worse as they often reject load and fraudulently charge consumers for electricity not used.
DISCOs have failed to upgrade and expand their capacities/networks and have been using various dubious antics like overbilling and forcing communities to procure distribution facilities like transformers, cables, poles etc., which they will eventually claim the ownership by arm twisting the people to undertake that these facilities are freely donated to them. These facilities are not only grossly inadequate but also in a decrepit condition because DISCOs have abandoned the responsibility of procurement and maintenance to the community people.
Going by this background, it is very incorrect and inappropriate to claim that the Nigerian power sector as it is currently constituted, is suffering from any form of shortfall in tariff, especially when it is expensive. So, indeed, we are calling for an immediate and urgent downward review of the tariff.
It is in the light of this background we suspect that the so called argument around the tariff shortfalls is just a mere ploy by the Nigeria capitalist ruling elites to create a favourable justification for the approval of another bailout fund for private owners of business currently in charge of the Nigeria power sector.
We of CARE oppose any form of additional bailout for the power sector that is currently being run for profit interest of private organisations and individuals. None of the previous bailouts given to the power sector has translated into any meaningful improvement in the sector. The truth is that the Nigerian power sector has been worsened despite over #2.5 trillion of public money reportedly injected by the Federal Government as bailout at different occasions into the sector since the privatisation exercise in 2013.
As far as we are concerned in CARE, the current orgy of crisis bedeviling the power sector are just a mere manifestation and consequences of the privatisation policy which is only design to always seek and protect profit interest of some people at the expense of the overall interest of the general public to enjoy regular and affordable electricity supply. It is in the recognition of this fact, that we reiterate our call for an open and immediate renationalisation of the entire power including DISCOs and GENCOs under the democratic control of the working people.
By democratic control, we mean that the operation and finances of the power sector at all levels should be open and subject to the democratic review and approval of committee of the elected representatives of electricity workers, consumers and government. It is this kind of democratic arrangement that can ensure judicious use of any funds made available for the sector and tackle corruption which is largely responsible for the collapse of the formal NEPA and PHCN.
CARE also commends the Transmission Company Of Nigeria (TCN) workers for the resilience they demonstrated during their recently suspended strike. We strongly believe that the demands of the striking workers under the banner of National Union of Electricity Employees, NUEE, are just and legitimate. It is in the light of this, CARE calls on the FG to honour and implement the agreements reached with the striking workers within the stipulated two weeks so as to forestall a possible reactivation of the suspended strike action.
In conclusion, CARE reiterates its age long calls on the national leadership of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Trade Union Congress, TUC, and NUEE, to jointly come up with an holistic plan of actions against the failed privatisation policy and demand for a renationalisation of the power sector and all other sectors of the economy currently being subjected to either full or partial privatisation, under the democratic control of the working people.
Comrade Ayodeji Adigun
Oyo CARE Convener
Comrade James Adetipe
Oyo CARE Secretary