NLC boss Joe Ajaero explains why Government has no business subsidizing electricity

The Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) President, Joe Ajaero, is of the opinion that the Federal Government (FG) has no business subsidizing electricity because the industry has been privatized.

Ajaero said this on Arise TV on Friday while fielding questions on the Federal Government proposed 40% increase in electricity tariff scheduled to take effect July 1, 2023.

“Oh, I am not saying that the Federal Government is not spending 50 billion naira, I am not here to doubt it,” Ajaero said.

“But I am here to say that electricity generation and distribution, especially the DisCos have been privatized, you know to the private sector.

“So, what is the government doing in another person’s business with N50 billion monthly subsidy? This is because the mantra they have been propagating is that government has no business in business.

“So, why subsidizing Mr. A and Mr. John’s business? It is laughable and it is so scandalous if after privatization of electricity and handing it over to the private sector and the federal government still say they are subsidizing it.”

Ajaero said that wasn’t the impression we were giving, we were given the impression that government had no money, that the private sector had a lot of money to handle electricity, electricity, distribution, generation and transmission and they sold it to individuals.

“So why are they spending 50 billion naira a month to subsidize electricity? I don’t understand the calculation,” the NLC president said.

Ajaero was asked where the NLC stands considering the fact that Nigerians continue to pay for darkness despite the legislature at some point or the other actually calling for a review of the privatization of the power sector.

“Well, the assumption they gave to Nigeria before privatisation was that there would be an improvement because I was at the head of it as the General Secretary of the National Union of Electricity Employee (NUEE).

“For over 10 years, we tried to explain to them that for an under-developing country, you know, you don’t come up with privatization,” he told Arise TV.

“For a country where there is no availability, a country where there is no accessibility, the country where you cannot situate affordability, that Nigeria was not right for privatization but some of them decided to go ahead with it.

“And then they had about three assumptions, the issue of technical competence, managerial ability and foreign direct investment (FDI) which they said were the basis for them to privatize.

“If you look at all these, there was no nothing that they brought in, there was no technical competence.

“There was nobody that was running the institution privately that they handed over to, so no managerial ability.

“On the issue of FDI which they deceived Nigerians that it was to bring in foreign direct investment, there was no single dollar that came into the economy of Nigeria.

“They rather borrowed money from Nigerian banks which created liquidity and today as we talk, about six or seven companies, discos have been seized by the by banks, where they borrowed money.

“So when they borrowed money from Nigerian banks, to buy Nigerian electricity companies and the thing has created a lot of problems, whether Abuja electricity or Benin electricity.”

According to Ajaero, all these electricity companies have been taken over by banks and banks don’t have the competence to run an industry in Nigeria.

Ajaero also said that he believes if the Federal Government is thinking of how to fix the power sector, they may have to come back to the drawing board.

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