The relative industrial peace in the Nigerian power sector may be disrupted any moment from now as organised labour in the sector is planning assault on Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) and Generation Companies (GenCos), over increasing casualisation of workers.
Under the aegis of the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE), labour lamented that precarious employment was now the bane of workers in the power sector.
Leaders of the union at the inauguration of the National Youth Committee of NUEE in Lagos, declared that labour would bring the full weight of its power to bear and ensure that workers engaged as casuals were converted to full and decent employment.
Addressing the young unionists, General Secretary of NUEE, Comrade Joe Ajaero, contended that precarious employment policy by the operators that has become a trend was destroying the sector, saying “the power sector has an aged workforce because embargo was placed on employment for over 10 years before privatisation.
“But they were recruiting casual workers. Thousands of casuals were engaged. We fought them to a standstill and insisted that they must be converted to permanent employment before Privatisation. Today, the DisCos are practicing casualization, including the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN).
“We have unionised them (casual workers) and we are going to fight for their regularisation (conversion as permanent employees).”
Ajaero informed the youthful union leaders that they must be courageous and must be ready to confront the authorities without fear, but must avoid whatever that could tarnish their image, especially corruption.
He said “some of us have resurrected from death in what we have experienced by challenging the powers that be in this country. My colleagues can testify of my encounter with former President Goodluck Jonathan, when we told him that he cannot privatise electricity industry.
“He asked to see me. We were in a room with his ministers. I gave him a global analysis that privatisation has not worked in any country of the world. And asked him, why do you want to privatise in Nigeria?. He looked at me very well and said Comrade, I agree with you that even concessioning has not worked. But you know what, we have to go ahead and privatise.
“It is irreversible. I told him that it will not work. I didn’t know that I challenged the president with that. He removed his eye glasses and put it down and looked sternly at me. It was then I realised that it was not me that was talking but the union’s spirit that spoke out.”
He also recalled his encounters with former Minister of Labour and Employment, Emeka Nwogu and former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Ayim Pius Ayim, declaring that “If you are not ready to talk to authorities and challenge them, you can’t do the job of unionism. What you need is courage but try not to be corrupt because they will get you. There is hardly no year they don’t petition against us. Make sure you keep your hands clean. Just like any other organisation, if we have laboured and the baton is given over to us. It will be wrong for you to allow the labour of our heroes past to be in vain”.
Earlier, President of the union, Comrade Martins Uzoegwu, among others, informed the young unionists that belonging to trade union was a fundamental human right, saying “let nobody tell you that you have no right to belong to the trade union. Trade union is a fundamental right. We must work together as trade unionists and members of the unions to confront the challenges facing us as workers, against the onslaught of the employers and capitalist.
“Unions fight for collective bargaining, better conditions of service for workers, and defend the rights of workers and ordinary citizens and so on.”
He added that “youths are very important in the unions because they replace the aging leaders and take over union’s administration.”
RSNC GM Tasks Medical Practitioners On Emerging Pandemics
The General Manager of the Rivers State Newspaper Corporation, Publishers of The Tide Newspaper, Chief Ernest Chinwo, has called on medical practitioners in the country to assist the government find workable solution to the array of emerging pandemics, including COVID-19, Lassa fever and monkeypox currently ravaging the country.
Chinwo said this in his office during a courtesy call by organisers of the Rivers State Joint Health Summit 2022.
Represented by the Acting Chairman of Editorial Board and Supervising Editor, Mr Nelson Chukwudi, the general manager also stressed the need for the health professionals to come up with private sector-driven health insurance scheme for the country.
He said that it also behoves on them to pool resources together with a view to building mega hospitals in the country to stem the tide of medical tourism abroad while at the same time curbing brain drain.
The general manager also tasked them to check the incidence of quackery in the medical profession.
Chinwo commended them for the proposed summit, assuring of the cooperation and support of the corporation, especially in providing adequate coverage to their activities.
He said the corporation, since inception has been on the forefront in publicising health issues, stressing that it was against this background that a page was dedicated in The Tide newspaper for health, and called for medical experts to contribute to the robustness of content on the page.
He further noted that beside newspaper publishing, the corporation also does all kinds of commercial printing jobs, and solicited patronage from the health professionals.
Earlier, Secretary General of the Rivers State Joint Health Summit, Dr. Joseph Olawuyi, said the summit with the theme “Repositioning HealthCare services in Rivers state” earlier proposed for the 22 to 26 of August 2022 was moved to October 2022 to ensure mass participation by both government and non-governmental organisations.
Olawuyi said the summit which is being put together by private medical practitioners in partnership with government aims at refocusing the health sector for quality service in the state.
He said a lot of people both within and outside the country have started registering for the summit.
According to him the event will also be used to train health practitioner’s on biomedical engineering as well as encourage the utilization of abundant medical equipment by practitioners.
He urged for a health bank in the country to create access to soft loans by health practitioners.
Olawuyi said the event which will be declared open by Governor Ezenwo Nyesom Wike will be attended by people from all walks of life including members of the armed forces amongst others.
By: John Bibor & Oreoluwa Adigun
FG Spends N18.69bn Daily On Subsidy, Minister Confirms
The Minister of Finance and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, has disclosed that Nigeria spends N18.69billion daily on petroleum subsidies.
She stated this, yesterday, when she appeared before the House of Representatives ad hoc committee investigating oil subsidies.
The minister claimed Nigeria consumes 64million litres per day, and that the figure could have been influenced by smuggling.
Ahmed said the executive is also concerned about the increment in daily consumption.
She noted that some of the products are being smuggled outside the country, adding that during COVID-19 locked down, daily consumption dropped significantly.
She stated that the president alone cannot take the decision on removing subsidy, insisting that there must be a multi-stakeholder approach, including all political parties, who must sit to make the decision.
The minister disclosed that the landing cost of petroleum is N448 per litre and that the NNPC takes care of the rest through under recovery.
She further said the Federal Executive Council has also expressed worry about the figure presented by the NNPC, adding that as the Minister of Finance, she has no access to the bank statement of the NNPC.
The Chairman of the Committee, Ibrahim Aliyu, questioned the figure provided by the minister.
Aliyu said even during the COVID19 locked down, Nigeria was still consuming high volume, which according to him was not logical.
He claimed the daily petroleum consumption was about 32million litres.
But the minister responded that she is not sure whether daily consumption has doubled and not also sure if the total number of vehicles in the country has doubled in the past 10 years.
Over 20 Countries Arrive Abuja For 2022 INAC
The 2022 International Arts and Crafts Expo (INAC), themed “Networking Nigerian Crafts to the World”, was, yesterday, declared open in Abuja, by the Director-General, National Council for Arts and Culture, Otunba Segun Runsewe.
The 15th edition of the Expo holding at the Abuja Sheraton Hotels & Towers has in attendance no fewer than 25 countries and eight states in Nigeria.
Some of the countries already on ground include Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Venezuela, Syria, India, Philippines, China, Iran, Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, Cuba, Malaysia, Benin Republic, Sudan, Lebanon, South Korea and Tanzania.
States in Nigeria that have arrived Abuja for the annual international event are Lagos, Ogun, Akwa Ibom, FTC, Kaduna and Katsina.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Runsewe said the aim of the expo is to better project Nigerian crafts to various countries of the world given that our stories are better told by us. It is also to promote cultural exchange programmes and improve inter-country collaborations in music, arts, drama, etc.
The expo, as usual, is expected to amongst other items, feature skill acquisition trainings for young people, free medical examination and care, display of countries art documentaries, exhibitions of countries’ arts, crafts and culture.
Runsewe said: “This is another opportunity we have to showcase Nigerian crafts to the world and to let the world know that Nigeria is a safe place to be. We want Nigerians to know that the creative industry is capable of tackling Nigerian insecurity problems by engaging the youths in our crafts for revenue generation.”
The 2022 expo holds from August 18 to 20, 2022.
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