Nigeria’s Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, has declared that he is not struggling with his responsibilities, even as electricity being generated under his leadership at the moment has crashed to its lowest level in many years.
Mr. Fashola, reacting to insinuation that he has been struggling with his duties, declared that “it could have been practically impossible to solve the power sector’s problems” in four months.
He, however, assured Nigerians that “deep thoughts, thinking, honesty, clear and sustained efforts, will make us to be able to track the problems, hence we will succeed in providing stable electricity for Nigerians”.
[read_more id="2" more="Read full article" less="Read less"]
Mr. Fashola was speaking at the National Delegate’s Conference, a three day event which would end with the election of officials to run the affairs of the Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied companies (SSAEAC), for the next three years.
The Minister advised employees to shun strikes as colossal resources are lost, observing that the misconception between employees and employers was as a result of colonial experience in which labour had dealings with the colonial Masters in Government.
Back then, he said, labour agitations were essentially meant to deal with the usurpers who lacked legitimacy to preside over the affairs of Nigeria.
But today, he added, “we are all part and parcel of common purpose, hence trade unions and associations are platforms to ventilate our collective concerns on issues of common interests.”
He called on union leadeers to do away with the colonial mentality, saying that “there must be change in the attitude of our employees towards these private concerns running the power sector now, they are not our opponents, let’s try to understand their language, let’s work with them, together let’s provide Nigerians with power”.
According to him, he has chosen to change the labour and government dichotomy to an engagement to employer and employee in a mutually beneficial way.
He observed that the Unions are not doing enough in sensitising their members in this thinking, “there must be harmony in the electricity sector, we must know that we need to work with our colleagues in other areas like gas supply, we cannot afford to be selfish as we all collectively must improve on our productivity”
He said employees should see that their fortunes are tied to the employers, whereas the unions are to help negotiations in the collective interests, they cannot take the place of employers.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, aslo at the event, challenged the Association which is a Trade Union in the power sector to be alive to its crucial role in the socio-economic development of Nigeria, which largely depended on regular power supply, he said, the contribution of the unions is of immense significant to President Muhammad Buhari Change Mantra, just as he enjoined them to de-emphasize dichotomy between capital and labour, insisting that Government will ensure level playing field for industrial harmony in the country.
The out-going President General of SSAEAC, Engr. Bede Opara, earlier, in his welcome address urged the Minister Fashola to inform the new owners of power assets in the country that there are existing laws guarding industrial relations, saying that they are expected to obey these laws as they operate their power plants.
The President Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, Comrade Bobboi Bala Kaigama, assured Government that “we are responsible labour unions; we don’t just go on strikes without first exploring dialogue which would bring to fore our grievances, after which we sign agreements”.
He added: “We go ahead with strikes if at the end, parties to agreements renege on their implementation”.