AEDC shutdown throws Abuja, Nasarawa, Kogi, Niger into darkness

December 7, 2021
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By John Ofikhenua, Abuja and Justina Asishana, Minna

The National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) yesterday shut down the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) indefinitely over outstanding payment of about N41 billion escrowed in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The union’s chairman in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Godfrey Aba, announced this at the AEDC headquarters in Abuja.

He told The Nation that “the industrial action will be withdrawn only when our demands are met”.

The union leader said the action culminated in outage in all AEDC franchise areas that include but not limited to the FCT, Kogi, Niger, and Nasarawa states.

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Aba said the union expected that the Federal Ministry of Power would have intervened before the strike started.

“Since they have not done that, we are still waiting for them to liaise with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to ensure this money is released so that not only our workers will receive their entitlements, our customers will also begin to enjoy better services,” he said.

Asked how much AEDC owed the union, Aba said: “It is about N40 billion. They (CBN) are supposed to release N2.5 billion on monthly basis. And it is now getting to two years.”

The union leader recalled that in 2019, the CBN escrowed the accounts of the power distribution companies (DisCos) and there was an agreement that the apex bank release N2.5 billion monthly to the company.

According to him, apart from salaries, the AEDC could no longer pay its workers their pension, checkup dues and cooperative deductions, among others.

The union accused the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) of standing aloof in the midst of the crisis. The NUEE also accused the CBN of planning to remove the current owners of the company.

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The Nation reports that the union members carried placards bearing various inscriptions at the gate of AEDC to show their grievances.

Some of the placards read: “CBN, release approved NERC intervention fund to AEDC”; “Non-remittance of 20 months pension”; “Release thrift/cooperative deductions for eight months,” among others.

NERC spokesman, Dr. Usman Arabi, neither answered the calls nor replied to text messages from The Nation last night.

Also, the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) yesterday told the public that it had bulk power for delivery to the distribution load centres of the AEDC to off-take for its customers.

In a statement, the company said: “However, power evacuation from injection substations across AEDC franchise areas has been disrupted, following a shutdown of the AEDC facilities by its in-house workers’ union. The areas under AEDC franchise include Abuja, Nasarawa, Kogi, parts of Edo, Niger and Kaduna states.

“TCN regrets this disruption and assures Nigerians that normal bulk power delivery to AEDC will be restored as soon as the injection substations are opened for onward electricity supply to consumers.”

The protesting NUEE workers also marched on the streets of Minna, the Niger State capital, yesterday, locking up the AEDC offices opposite the U. K. Bello Art Theatre as well as other offices across the states.

Speaking with The Nation, the state NUEE Vice Chairman Mu’azu Ibrahim said the strike would be indefinite until the remittances deducted from members’ salaries are paid.

“Our pension, which is being deducted from our salaries, has not been remitted to the pension firm for over 20 months. Bulk rent, which was deducted, has not been paid.

“Also, the cooperative, which is being done by the workers, has not been paid for over seven months, and they are still deducting from our salaries. The productivity bonus for senior workers has not been paid for 2020.

“We have been working without tools or materials. We are tired of explaining to the people why they need to buy some of the things that are in our responsibility to give to them,” he said.

The Niger State representative of the NUEE National Women Committee, Zainab Gaku, said the strike was taking place in all states AEDC distributes electricity.

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