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

TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid