The House of Representatives has resolved to intervene in the ongoing impasse between the Federal government and the National Union of Electricity Employees, (NUEE) to forestall power outage.
The Union on the November 7th petitioned the Ministry of Power, Distribution Companies of Nigeria (DISCOs)and Generation Companies of Nigeria (GENCOs) over unpaid pensions of 2000 disengaged staff of the defunct Power Holding Company (PHCN) since 2013.
The Union subsequently issued a 21days ultimatum to the federal government with a threat to embark on strike.
The House on Wednesday resolved to wade into the crisis following a motion of urgent public importance moved by the Deputy Minority Leader, Toby Okechukwu (PDP, Enugu).
The motion prayed for the intervention of the leadership of the House, to avoid the shutdown of the power sector.
Speaking on the motion. the Minority leader, Ndudi Elumelu condemned those responsible for fulfilling agreements with the Unions.
“Even the meagre 4,000Megawatts, Nigerians are still without power, then imagine it now shut down. Those managing to survive, they will have issues. Let us restrict it to this chamber, look at cameramen, they will have to iron their clothes. Imagine the calamity of a shutdown, because someone due to ignorance, ignored the 21days ultimatum given,” Elumelu said.
The Acting majority leader and former President of The Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), Peter Akpatason in his contribution blamed government for industrial actions by Labour.
“Over the years, we have always complained that the reason for industrial action is that a lot of agreements are not fulfilled. Public officers given responsibilities wait till things get out of hand. If the House had not intervened, the people would have gone on strike with the intended and unintended consequences. Many of NEPA workers were forces out of work as a result of privatization. These people did not prepare for pension but were laid off and their pensions are not paid. These workers today will become pensioners tomorrow,” he stated.
The Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila in his reaction worried that 21days will elapse today by 12 midnight.
He, therefore, directed the Clerk to invite the Union, Minister of power, Saleh Mamman, minister of Labour, employment and productivity, Chris Ngige and the Director-General of Pension Commission, Aisha Dahir Umar for an interface with the leadership of the House on Thursday by 2 pm.
He added that the House leadership in the meantime will reach out to the union through a backchannel to appeal to the union to “ceasefire.”
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