News / Africa

Nigeria Deploys Troops at Power Stations as Strike Looms

Owei Lafenka, acting secretary general of the Nigeria Labor Congress, says the troop deployment threatens national security

Multimedia

Audio
  • Listen to Butty interview with Labor Congress of Nigeria official Lafenka

James Butty

An official of the Nigeria Labor Congress says the federal government’s decision to deploy troops at facilities of the state-run Power Company of Nigeria poses a threat to national security.

The government action follows a decision by the National Union of Electricity Employees to go on strike Monday.  The union is demanding a 50 percent salary increase and opposes the government’s decision to privatize the power industry.

Power Minister Barth Nnaji is quoted as saying the troop deployment is to protect the country’s power facilities and that a strike by the workers would endanger Nigeria’s national security.

Owei Lakenfa, acting General Secretary of the Nigeria Labor Congress, says the power sector is part of the national heritage of Nigeria and the workers will not allow anyone to purchase it without first addressing their concerns.

“The first thing is that we do not think the deployment of troops is an alternative to normal industrial issues or problems for solution.  Secondly, we tell the government that, if you deploy armed soldiers against workers in their places of work, that is dangerous.  If you use armed soldiers against workers at their place [of] work, what would [happen] if Nigeria were invaded by another country?” he said.

Nnaji has reportedly said the deployment is intended to protect the country’s power facilities and that a strike by the workers would endanger Nigeria’s national security.

Lafenka said the deployment of troops is not about security, but rather the sale of the state-owned power company.

“If soldiers were deployed to bring in Indians and Chinese and Koreans to assess the power installations for sale, using cameras and video, that is not about security.  It is about the sale of the facilities,” Lafenka said.

He said the power workers will have no need to go on strike if negotiations going on about the future of workers in a future privatized Nigeria Power Company.

“For instance, there is the issue of salary increase which had been agreed on some few years, but which had not been implemented.  The second point has to do with casualization of work.  There are 10, 000 workers in the sector who are casual [part time] workers and who have been working for between two and 15 years.  And so, the concern of electricity workers is that, if these people are not made permanent, they will never find gratuity and pension at the end of the day,” Lafenka said.

Lafenka said the true threat to Nigeria’s security is not the workers’ demand for better wages but rather the government’s attempt to privatize the power industry.

“Whenever workers demand for basic needs, they say it’s against national security; everything that is in the interest of the poor and the people of Nigeria, they say it’s against national security.  And, what we are saying is that the government action in drafting armed soldiers to power installations in order to enable Chinese and Indians to buy the corporation is against national security,” he said.

Nigeria suffers from daily power shortages and outages costing the country billions of dollars annually.

Lafenka said the workers want to be consulted before the government tries to privatize the Power Company of Nigeria.

“There is no need for privatization because the government spent billions of dollars in the name of reforming the electricity sector.  For instance, former President [Olusagun] Obasanjo spent $16 billion and all we have is more darkness in Nigeria.  That is a case of embezzlement and fraud.  The second point we are making is that, even if you are going to privatize, there are human beings that work in this sector.  So, the issue of their pension, of their gratuity, must be addressed,” Lafenka said.

He said if the government fails to listen to the concerns of workers, then the workers would no alternative, but to go a strike.

‘If the workers go on strike and the government [uses] armed soldiers and policemen, then the Nigerian Labor Congress will also call on other federal workers for support.  We will then move to call the Nigerian people to defend workers and defend their workers and defend our heritage because the power sector is part of the national heritage of Nigeria,” said Lefenka.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs