Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City
Electricity workers under the umbrella of Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies (SSAEAC) have described the privatization of the power sector by the Federal Government as a big mistake.
Chris Okonkwo, President-General, SSAEAC, stated this at the weekend when he spoke with newsmen at the inauguration of their secretariat building in Benin City, Edo state, describing the buyers as portfolio investors who lacked the financial capacity and the technical know-how to manage the sector.
Okonkwo who also alleged the distribution companies (DISCOs) of fraud against Nigerians by holding onto 100 per cent for 60 per cent of shares bought by DISCOs, further described privatization of DISCOS as trial policy, stressing that government never got to the right point to have done it.
He stated that the fallout of not doing it well was what Nigerians are experiencing today in terms of poor power supply.
His words: “What we are saying is that things were not done and if they were done, they were not done rightly. If something is not done well you expect some fall out.
“One of the fall out is the challenges in the sector we are talking about. Privatization was a mistake. A big mistake, because government did not get to the right point to do it. Even if they were to do it, they did not do it well.
“This is what exactly SSAEAC has been preaching about or putting in the ear of the government and they are hearing but not taking action expected so far.
“What is privatisation,? It is about getting the best economically in terms of getting finance and technical know-how. This was not what happened.
“What happened was that portfolio carrying investors went abroad and hired people to present to the BPE and… co-investors, but after the privatisation, they took their portfolios and went back. We were left with fellow Nigerians without background in the sector as owners of the sector. That is the problem”.
Okonkwo who said that the SSAEAC had advocated for Public Private Partnership, noted that what was needed was to encourage the private sector to compete with the public that already existed to make the sector more efficient.
Noting that public private partnership still remained the best option for the sector, Okonkwo also made call for effective regulation of the sector.
According to him, “Government cannot just remove it’s hands from the sector or any other sector and say, private sector should run it. You are selling off the citizens. And as labour, we are against this totally.”
More details later