Gift Joseph Okpakorese
One of the major challenges faced by the Nigerian economy in its quest for growth and development is that of poor power supply. There is this notion by a majority of people outside the shores of this country that Nigerians are generally lazy and unproductive.
The opinion that Nigerians are inactive, productive, and carefree in their attitude to life, growth, and development has been vehemently dismissed by well-meaning Nigerians within and outside the country that experience has taught over the years to understand that, Nigerians are the most diligent and creative set of people you can encounter in the globe. The only difficult challenges they are experiencing is lack of enabling environment to explore throw potentials due to lack of provision of basic social amenities
Many business owners are of the same view that their business has gone into extinction as a result of a lack of constant power supply. As it has become obvious that many people can’t cope with the purchase and maintenance of the available alternative which involves the use of solar energy, in Carter’s machines and, plants or generators which also demands frequent purchase of fuel and diesel.
On a larger scale, many industries and foreign investors who could have brought in their businesses to partner with other companies in the country have shied away from it as a result of a lack of a conducive working environment that could promote good business deals and achievement.
In like manner, Investors in the energy sector may be in for an industrial catastrophe, as labour unions in the industry have threatened to combat motions by the firms to fire thousands of their employees.
It is bad enough that the industry has not been leaving up to their requirements and has long lost the trust in the expectations of the masses that they are meant to serve. Therefore any action perpetrated at laying off workers may further compound the already deplorable power crisis in most regions of the nation, as the worker is ready to cut off electrical supply to the south-south and south-west regions by the end of the month.
According to reports by news sources, the unions confirmed that the investors would make matters worse should they go on with their proposal to retire or fire any of its workers who perhaps are already feeling the pressure from customers as the case may be.
Moreover, recall that there was the earlier issue of the termination of the appointments of an estimated number of 47,000 employees when the predecessor companies to the extinct Power Holding Company of Nigeria were handed over to them last November.
Ever since the recent takeover and privatization of the energy sector, the new owners have complained excessively about the unending challenges and crisis bedeviling the company such as inadequate gas supply, poor workforce, manpower, and management, as well as crude and obsolete equipment.
As it stands now, however, it is been reported that thousands of workers in the power sector could lose their jobs, because the six-month contract drawn up in the initial employment given to them by the new investors is set to terminate on April 30, 2014.
Accordingly, it was confirmed that the Federal Government had decreed the retrenchment of about 20,000 PHCN employees in view of the expropriation of the 18 successor companies last year. This was revealed to be in line with the needs of the new investors, who wished the over 50,000 PHCN workforce be lessened prior to the handover before.
Though 47,913 PHCN workers were disengaged following the privatization of the power firms, the new investors were contractually required to retain some workers in order to prevent the system from collapsing.
Many Nigerians are hopeful that this said retrenchment could be discussed with amicable solutions preferred to improve rather than cause more quagmire in the already dilapidating power sector.