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.”
Fubara Set To Create New Cities In Rivers
Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has disclosed that arrangements are at advanced stages to achieve the development of new cities in the state that would help to decongest Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor Local Government Areas.
Fubara said that the new cities would end the one city status of Rivers State and attract more investors into the state.
The governor stated this when he inspected the Greater Port Harcourt City Development Authority’s (GPHCDA) office and project sites in Ikwerre Local Government Area of the state.
Fubara said: “I can assure you that in our time, we might not achieve the dream of that big city in four years, but we will add a few things that would also help us in getting at that target.
“This is because, we are thinking of decongesting the present one city state that we have, which is Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor. We are thinking of developing other parts of the state and our coming here is to see what the agency has been doing, what you have done already and what we can also do to make us achieve more new cities in our state.”
Fubara noted that despite the challenges the agency has been facing, there would be remarkable difference in what it would achieve within his tenure if the agency’s development ideals are aligned with those of the state government.
He, however, charged the agency to be self-sustaining by attracting investors as outlined by its establishment law.
Also speaking, the Sole Administrator of GPHCDA, Amb Desmond Akawor, said that since its establishment in 2009 by the Greater Port Harcourt Law, the agency has been slowed down in creating more cities because of its operational structure and the nature of the Public-Private Partnership it adopted.
Akawor, who is the Rivers State chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), explained that a new legal framework has been fine-tuned by the last GPHDA board, which the current management would present to the governor.
He said: “I am sure that with your directives, we will be able to reschedule some of the projects so that we can move forward with all of our partners, especially in the area of reforming or strengthening the public private partnership arrangements.”
Majority Leader Seeks Immortalisation Of Slain DPO
The Majority Leader of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Hon Edison Ehie, has appealed to the Police High Command to consider the immortalisation of the murdered Divisional Police Officer(DPO) in charge of Ahoada East Divisional Headquarters, SP Bako Angbashim, and commiserated with the State Commissioner of Police, CP Emeka Nwonyi; officers and men of the Police Force; and the family of the deceased over the brutal murder of the DPO.
Ehie, who made the appeal in a statement said the slain DPO deserves to be immortalised as he was a gallant, fearless and courageous police officer who distinguished himself in the fight against criminals and bandits in the State, adding that the calamitous killing and decapitation of the DPO by Mr Gift David Okpara Okpolowu, alias 2 Baba and his criminal gang is “an unprecedented low which shocked me beyond words and threw my constituents into an endless mourning circle”.
As the Honourable member representing Constituency 2 at the Rivers State House of Assembly and the incumbent Leader of the House, Ehie said he is using this medium to unreservedly condemn the senseless killing and decapitation of the DPO, and also to reiterate the call for the immediate apprehension and prosecution of his killers and everyone associated with the condemnable act.
Describing SP Angbashim as a gallant, fearless and courageous police officer who distinguished himself in the fight against criminals and bandits in the State, the lawmaker said the slain DPO was the one who single-handedly restored peace and order in Ogoniland.
“Even within the few months he spent in Ahoada East Local Government Area, the results of his gallantry were visible for all to see and appreciate.This is why his killing is not only calamitous and lamentable, but an affront to the government of the day in the State”, he said, adding that no government worths its salt will fold it’s arms and allow criminals and bandits to freely prey on its citizenry in order to make the State ungovernable.
On this score, therefore, Ehie thanked the Governor of the State, Sir SiminalayiFubara for prompt response to the situation which he said has already started yielding wonderful fruits, with some of the criminals associated with the killing of the DPO now under police detention and interrogation.
He also thanked and commend the officers and men of the Police Force as well as operatives of other sister security agencies in the State for their uniquely stellar efforts in fishing out the killers of the DPO.
The Majority Leader, however, called on all Ekpeye people, traditional rulers, chiefs, political elites and the general public to gratuitously assist and work with the police and other security agencies in ensuring that the killers of SP Angbashim are fished out, apprehended and made to face the full weight of the law, saying, “May our State never again witness this type of murderous orgy and life wastage”.
Ehie also appealed to the Police High Command in the State to consider the immortalisation of the slain DPO, while also appealing for meaningful and deserving support to his family and dependants.
While conveying his heart-felt condolences to the Nigerian Police, especially the officers and men of the Rivers State Police Command, the lawmaker prayed the Almighty God to grant them the fortitude to bear the monumental loss. He equally extended his deepest condolences to the family of the DPO, and prayed God to console them and heal their wounds.
Ehie further noted that “the biggest debt we collectively owe SP Bako Angbashim is to redress his killing by arresting his killers and subjecting them to justice.”
Appeal Court Upholds Banigo’s Senatorial Election Victory
The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja, yesterday, upheld the judgment of the Rivers State National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal that declared Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) winner of the Rivers West Senatorial District Election held on February 25, 2023.
The Appellant Court, in her judgment, dismissed the appeal filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) Senatorial Candidate, Hon. Asita O. Asita as “lacking in merit”.
In her reaction shortly after the verdict at the court premises, the Banigo hailed the judgment, describing it as an “incontrovertible victory of irreversible Senate seat”.
She expressed gratitude to the Almighty God, the leaders/stakeholders of the PDP and the entire members of the Rivers West Senatorial District for their unflinching support.
Banigo assured them of her loyalty and total commitment towards realising the tenets of her Kingdom Mandate.
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