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

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer More

Video Kenyans Lament Al-Shabab's Recruitment of Youths

VOA travels to Isiolo, where residents share their fears, struggles to get loved ones back from Somalia-based militant group More

This US Epidemic Keeps Getting Worse

One in 4 Americans suffers from this condition 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.
A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensionsi
X
May 26, 2015 11:11 PM
When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs