By John Ofikhenua
The National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) has shut down all operations of the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) indefinitely owing to outstanding payment of about N41billion escrowed in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The Union’s FCT chairman, Comrade Godfrey Aba at the shut AEDC Headquarters in Abuja, told The Nation “the industrial action will be withdrawn only when our demands are met.”
The action, according to him, has culminated in an outage in all AEDC franchise areas that include but are not limited to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Kogi, Niger, and Nassarawa.
According to him, it was expected that before the strike the Federal Ministry of Power would have intervened in the industrial crisis.
Aba said: “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 that not only our staff will receive their entitlements, our customers will begin to enjoy better services.”
Asked how much is the debt owed AEDC, he said: “It is about N40 billion. They (CBN) are supposed to release N2.5billion on monthly basis. And it is now getting to two years.”
He recalled that in 2019, the CBN escrowed the accounts of the DisCos and there was an agreement that the Apex bank release N2.5 billion monthly to the company.
Apart from salaries, the AEDC, according to him, can no longer pay its staff pension, check-up dues and cooperative deductions and others.
He noted that it is only AEDC that the CBN is sitting on its monthly payments.
Aba revealed that Apex bank had sent its team to confirm that the outstanding claims of expenditures of AEDC were real.
The union accused the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) of standing aloof while the crisis ranges.
The spokesman of the Commission, Dr. Usman Arabi, did not pick The Nation’s calls for NERC’s response.
The Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) in a statement informed that it has available bulk power for delivery to the distribution load centres of the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) to offtake for its customers.
It added: “However, power evacuation from injection substations across AEDC franchise area 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.”