National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) has alleged that government's rush to privatise the National Power Authority (NEPA) is a ploy to cover-up the fraud and loot perpetrated by top government officials and challenged all the presidential candidates to the forthcoming general election to tell Nigerians what they want to do with NEPA as well as provide stable power supply to Nigerians.
NUEE warned that besides protecting the interest of its members, as civil society group interested in the well being of all Nigerians, the union would mobilise all patriotic Nigerians against any pro-Privatisation leader as the programme is anti-people imposed on Nigeria by the Bretton Wood Institutions.
A statement by the union's Deputy General Secretary, Comrade O. A. Sobowale lamented that the present Obasanjo led government started well but later derailed under influences from lender nations and their local collaborators.
The statement said: "When the President Olusegun Obasanjo administration took the saddle of leadership it moved in this direction but a few months later, it capitulated in the opposite direction-towards privatisation. Why was this so? What happened? There are three fundamental reasons we can offer to explain this. First, the administration pandered to the external pressures of lending agencies that are increasingly pushing for privatisation throughout the Third world. Second, the administration lacked the political will to deal with the monumental corruption that had taken place in NEPA, neither did it have the courage to bring the culprits to book. Enormous unaccounted amounts were stolen from NEPA, and nothing is being said about this either by the President or the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE). Thirdly, and not the least, the government has never put in place a Board with unimpeachable integrity, patriotism and dedication to duty, such that will be able to tackle the problems of NEPA. Without fear of thoughtful contradiction, the Technical Board put in place by the present administration became not only part of the problem, but the biggest problem of NEPA. The other problems include, poor maintenance and turn around culture, obsolete equipment, poor tariff collection from clientele which include the Presidency, the Army and the Police, and illegal vandalisation of NEPA equipment.
That has been the history of NEPA And we challenge any decent administration to ask the books to be opened, Nigerians will be shocked, because they will discover the truth. The attempt to rush to privatise NEPA is meant to cover-up the fraud and loot of some sacred cows."
"The Government, through the BPE, and with orchestrated indignation, has been wasting taxpayers' money on ill-informed blackmail and propaganda in the media directed against NEPA on the so-called issue of non-performance. The key problem of NEPA is what is euphemistically referred to as public sector corruption. Even the Presidency and National Assembly suffer from it., numerous scandals reported in the media daily, will suffice in this regard. The goal should be how to rid the public sector of corruption and not how to privatise all its strategic components. This should be the cardinal objective of the new Board of NEPA and not how to prepare NEPA for privatiation".
According to him, "our immediate reason for this statement is to put all the twenty (20) Presidential candidates on alert and to urge them to publicly state their position on the privatisation of public enterprises and in particular their position on NEPA. Our perusal of the manifestoes of the political parties available to us does not suggest that any of them is willing to pursue privatisation of NEPA, this is not to say that they will not encourage private sector growth.
We do however know that, in the Nigerian context, there is party manifesto and there is personal manifesto, many elected politicians do not follow the programmes outlined by their political parties."
"We want to know what the personal political manifesto of each Presidential candidate is, beyond what was said during the Presidential debate. This becomes crucial for two reasons. First, as an interest group and a trade union, and above all as part of
the electorate, we are interested in what concern our members and what concern or touch the interest of other citizens of Nigeria. This is quite legitimate and consistent with the principles of democracy. Second, beyond our franchise, we are going to embark on full-scale mobilisation for or against any leader who is pro-privatisation, this is because the programme is anti-people. This is not misplaced sentiment or undue patriotism. Most certainly, the privatisation of NEPA is an anti-poor people policy. Experiences of Third world countries, particularly in the energy sector, in Cote D'Voire, Pakistan, South Africa, New Zealand and South Korea have proven this."
The union added: "It is for the foregoing reasons that we urge all the Presidential candidates of all the 20 political parties in contention, including the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP), Democratic Alternative (DA), National Conscience Party (NCP), and United Nigeria Peoples Party (UNPP), among many others to make a disclaim to this statement or specifically tell us where they stand or what they intend to do about NEPA genuinely salvage it or criminally auction it.?"
"The implication of not responding to this statement, inadvertently knocks out the moral basis of the pursuit of the privatisation of NEPA by any victorious aspirant, post-election. But, should this happen, our Union is well-advised about what to do."