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Socialist Democracy April-May 2018


29 March 2018

Print | Text only print | Facebook  Twitter

EPILEPTIC POWER SUPPLY DESPITE PRIVATISATION:

Nationalization of the Power Sector is the Only Solution to Darkness

By Fidel Davinovich

Since the privatization of the power sector, epileptic power supply is still widespread. The power sector was sold at a rock bottom price of about N500 billion, an industry that is worth more than $3 trillion. This is a massive rip-off of public interest. The Distribution Companies (DISCOs) have successfully continued the issuance of estimated billing that is mostly inflated and outrageous. Five years now the power industry has been privatized, power generation has not gone beyond 5000MW despite investing over $20billion in the last 15 years.

Despite the fact that the GENCOS and DISCOS are overbilling most of the consumers, there is the plan to increase electricity tariff annually. Unfortunately, the planned tariff hike has the backing of Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and the federal government. The increment would have taken effect but for a possible widespread protest and backlash in the forthcoming election. This means that the plan to hike tariff was only suspended and will be implemented soon. Economically, an increment would affect industries, small and medium-scale firms with its attendant negative implications for jobs. Many house hold families will also suffer discomfort.

As a matter of fact, since 1999 till date the capitalist politicians of APC, PDP, APGA etc., have continually used public funds to bail-out private companies who for obvious reasons of incapacity and corruption run into problems. The DISCOs are not remitting for power collected as at when due and owes the federal government about N500 billion while the government through NBET guarantees the GENCOs of every MW generated- this is fraud! How this same private sector that largely relies on huge government/public support will lead the economy into prosperity is a mystery? So far, bailout of over N200 billion has been given to the power companies with no fundamental improvement by the federal government.

For more than two years since 2015 the Buhari regime used "Change" to deceive us the poor masses, living condition has been terribly bad for most working class families. The N18000 Minimum Wage has not been increased and cost of living keeps going up.

BUILDING A FORMIDABLE RESISTANCE AND THE WAYOUT

In view of the never-ending crisis in the power sector and unbridled exploitation by the power companies, activists, socialist of different organisations have formed a broad organization known as Coalition for Affordable and Regular Electricity (CARE) to unite and coordinate the struggle. A lot of communities like in Ajegunle, Ajao Estate, Surulere, Agege, Mushin, Oshodi, Ifako-Ijaye, Iyana-Ipaja, Okokomaiko etc., have organized one form of resistance or the other against the brazen exploitation and very poor electricity supply. All these communities and many more ought to link up under the umbrella of CARE so that together we can call for mass protests and demonstrations that can be powerful enough to compel the DISCOS to address the various demands. We call on the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), United Labour Congress (ULC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) to lead nationwide struggle to end the exploitation and reverse the privatization as a step towards the turnaround of the sector.

We call on workers, market men and women, students, trade unionists, artisans, activists, well-meaning organizations, communities who have been resisting crazy bill to unite in common interests to demand issuance of prepaid meters and an affordable and functional electricity supply. This demand cannot be achieved under privatization of the power sector. However, the way out is for the sector to be re-nationalized and placed under democratic control and management of workers and consumers. This is the only policy thrust that can sustainably improve the power sector to guarantee affordable and 24 hours power supply to all.