Electricity workers in the country have threatened to shut down the nation's electricity if the federal government forces them out of work without paying them their entitlements.
The workers stated this though their union, the Nigerian Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE), on Monday in Jos. The federal government had promised to pay off the over 40,000 workers as part of the privatisation of the electricity companies, successor companies of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).
The General Secretary of the Union, Joe Ajuero, made the union's intention known on Monday at a media briefing in Jos, shortly after addressing staff of the Jos zonal office of the union on their unpaid gratuities and pension.
Ajuero according to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), alleged that the federal government had threatened to use soldiers and other security agencies to force-out the PHCN staff from their offices across the country.
"We are only pleading for the payment of our entitlements, we will vacate the offices, but if we are not paid, we will not leave, and our salaries must not be stopped," he said. He added that "the very moment our due monies are fully paid, we will leave without further complains.
"But if they decide to use armed men on us, we will make this country enjoy total blackout of power supply by PHCN."
The Jos zonal office of the PHCN comprises of Benue, Plateau, Bauchi, and Gombe States. About 3,000 members of the NUEE attended Monday's briefing. Ajuero said the statements of public officials including that by the Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, that most of the workers had been paid were false.
He described Maku as minister of "misinformation" and called for his sack from office. "The federal government claims through its information minister, that they have paid off PHCN staff about 90 per cent, this is false, and incorrect.
"It is disheartening to hear that such information emanated from a personality such as Maku," he said.
Ajuero stressed that less that 40 per cent of electricity workers have been paid their gratuity without the pensions.
"No staff has been paid his or her pension," he said. The union leader said the NUEE would not allow the handing over of the already sold electricity companies to the buyers until all the staff were paid their entitlements. He said the total money needed to pay the workers was about N400 billion as stipulated in their letters of disengagements.
According to the union scribe, all the transmission staff of the company had not been paid a penny contrary to government claims.
Contributing, the secretary of the Jos zone of the union, Antony Sule, said only about 40 per cent of staff from his zone have received their gratuities. The two union leaders also separately denied any sabotage by electricity workers on the current electricity situation in the country. The federal government recently handed over the certificates of ownership to the private investors who bought the PHCN successor companies, with a plan to formally handover the companies before the end of the year.
The government had consistently pledged to pay all the workers their entitlements before the conclusion of the privatisation process.