It would seem from the deliberate efforts of the Nigerian trade unions to lump the issue of new electricity tariffs approved for Nigerian electricity distribution companies called discos, with the recent increase of fuel price to N145, that the unions have something to hide after all. This is because Nigerians are not as daft as the Unions think. Indeed, they now know better, especially with the daily news of sabotage of oil and gas pipelines that the problem of irregular or zero electricity supply lie not with the discos. Instead they lie clearly with those that are to generate and transmit the electricity to the discos for onward delivery to the anxiously waiting and expectant Nigerian electricity consumers.
It is therefore patently unfortunate and mischievous of the unions in the power sector to vent their spleen on the discos as the culprit for poor electricity supply. The facts as the public now knows is that while the discos can be taken to task on slow metering and use of estimates the same cannot be done on the main issue of lack of electricity and the existing poor power supply. The obvious reason is that the discos do not exist in a vacuum,but are at the receiving end of a value chain in electricity generation and transmission.
It follows therefore and there from that if the discos do not have kilowatts of electricity transmitted to them for distribution their distribution capacity is denuded if not nonexistent . So how come the power industry trade unions, the protector of workers’ rights are deliberately portraying the discos as exploiting the Nigerian masses with the new tariffs and equating that with the highly explosive fuel price increase that the workers union have called Nigerians out on strike, albeit unsuccessfully? The answer is obvious and it is that Nigerians as I said before now know better and will not be led by the nose again by mischievous trade unions in any industry.
Nigerians know that the discos are owned by Nigerian investors who bought them at privatisation with their hard earned money and that the distribution function in electricity is capital intensive and highly expensive to deliver. They know that if the discos deliver then our economy will rise from its present dormant and comatose state and Nigerians will have a better life. Nigerians also know that electricity distribution is highly technological and it will take some time for those who have invested in it which are the discos to make any profit. We also know that as with the high prices which ushered in telecommunications when gsm phones came in, the high tariffs in electricity already approved for the discos by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, the power regulator controlling the discos, will also come down for our overall enjoyment and general satisfactory consumption of electricity.
It is therefore unnecessary for the power trade unions, in agitating for workers rights and benefits to make the discos and the tariffs approved for them the scape goats for poor electricity supply when Nigerians know the source of that. That is definitely misleading and more unpatriotic than the misleading picture of exploitation that the unions have painted the discos on the new tariffs. It is like giving the dog a bad name in order to hang it and that is not what the discos or the Nigerian electricity consumers deserve.
Especially now that Nigerians are calling on government to stop vandalisation of pipelines and tackle those involved like BokoHaram and terrorists generally.
To salvage its reputation from the failed strike on the new fuel price increase, the trade unions should refrain from lumping the protests on that score with the new electricity tariffs that NERC has approved for discos. This is because Nigerians know that better days are ahead if the discos are allowed to function according to their legitimate mandate to deliver electricity to Nigerians and lift us out of perpetual darkness.
The unions should channel their efforts at making Nigerians have electricity by asking government to galvanise its power generation and transmission capabilities to make the discos perform and deliver. That way, Nigerians will rally round when trade unions call them out on strike because they will see that the Unions know what they are saying especially on new electricity tariffs as well as the real reasons for poor electricity supply.