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The Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) this evening welcomes the news of the resignation of the Power Minister Prof. Barth Nnaji from the Federal Executive Council and its subsequent acceptance by the President; Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.

The Congress believes that this removes one of the basic obstacles to peace and Industrial harmony within the Power sector and sets in motion the desired ambience for the actualisation of real reforms in the sector which will be transparent and people driven. It is our responsible opinion that the present reform in the sector is heavily tainted as Nigerian workers observed a prevalence of strong political interests in the mindless pursuit of the reform agenda under the former Minister. It is unfortunate that vested interests would drive the process of reforms in the power sector which will therefore not be in the overall interest of Nigerian workers and the masses in general.

We have always advocated the enthronement of citizen based policies and projects and that only the interest of Nigerians and Nigeria should be the centre point of all governmental effort but this has proven to be a mirage under the erstwhile minister. That is why we frown at the fact that a Minister championing a reform in the power sector not only have controlling interest in some companies bidding to buy up some of the companies that have emerged from the unbundled PHCN but also owns companies who are major players within the Power Industry.

This is not only unethical but morally wrong and that is why we see his exit as a welcome development that would create a level playing field for all the participants in the Power sector thus enabling a more transparent, citizen based reform. It is unacceptable to allow the same group of Nigerians to continue using the instrument of their offices to enrich themselves and their cronies through the heartless recycling of our collective wealth into their private pockets. It is this apparent less than acceptable ethical behaviour that has led to the unnecessary grandstanding and braggadocio with which the legitimate demands of PHCN workers to their severance package has been treated. We have always noted that public officers should conduct their affairs in an unimpeachable manner and it is only when there are grey areas in our conduct as public officers that we go out of our way to distort an obvious simple and beneficial process.

Prof. Barth Nnaji’s removal of himself from the Ministry will allow the President to replace him with individuals who understand the Job better and appreciates that workers remain the bedrock for a functional Power sector and deserve to be treated as such. This will allow for the immediate resolution of most of the crisis presently rocking the Sector. We urge the President to quickly look for such men and women and who we are sure abounds that can deliver Nigerian people from the clutches of darkness rather than engaging in fruitless chest trumping in the media.

However, Prof Barth Nnaji is not alone in this exercise of shameless pursuit of mundane and base interest within the federal cabinet. We believe there are others and we want to use this opportunity to call on such remaining officers both in the Federal Cabinet and Departments and Agencies to also find grace to remove themselves from office. This may give the President the required fillip to truly ventilate the federal Executive Council and bring a real bout of fresh air into his government.

We therefore urge all parties in the present negotiations in the Power sector to seize this opportunity to move quickly towards resolving all outstanding issues within the Power sector to show clearly that the Prof was actually one of the fundamental obstacles against peaceful resolution of the crisis in the Sector.

Comrade  Chief John Kolawole
(President General) (Secretary General)

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