By ANDREW OJIEZEL
WORRIED by the anti-masses policies being implemented by Federal Government, the Federation of Informal workers’ Organizations of Nigeria (FIWON), described steps being taken by President Muhammadu Buhari was target against the livelihood of the masses.
The General Secretary of FIWON, Comrade Gbenga Komolafe, cited the recent ban on mini generators as another attack meant to marginalize the masses.
FIWON made up of 170 affiliate informal sector organizations in Nigeria in 21 states of Nigeria frowned at the oppressive measures by government and noted that government is only interested in enriching the rich people at the detriment of the masses.
“Specifically, we protest very vehemently the recent ban on importation of mini generators by the Federal Government. Available records show that current supply of electricity at 3, 262.4 megawatts represents only about 1.6 per cent of the estimated need of 200, 000MW in Nigeria.
The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) and the National Association of Small Scale Industries (NASSI) have estimated that their members spend an average of about N2 billion (about $12 million) per week on self-power generation.
It is worthy of note that that estimate does not include the expenditure on self-power generation by micro business and informal workers. The Nigeria Customs service (NCS) has offered the rather vacuous argument that the ban is informed by the fact that the mini generators are “… causing air pollution and destruction of our lungs and breathing system”. While this reason sounds good, it raises very big issues.”
Expressing the anger of FIWON against the ban, Komolafe pointed out that if ban of the mini generators were aimed at eliminating pollution, it means the massive diesel electricity generating units used by banks, factories, school, hospitals and others, which also emit much more carbon than the petrol mini engine should be banned too.
“Why has the Federal government been pussyfooting over the much talked about continued gas flares in the Niger Delta by multinational oil corporations when we know that those flares have severely damaged our environment while imperiling the lives of millions of people in Niger Delta communities? Without affordable electricity from the national grid, and in the absence of affordable alternatives such as solar power, will this ban not merely spur on massive importation of these electricity generating sets from neighbouring countries to meet a real need for them?
“It would appear therefore that singling out the mini generators is not necessarily borne out of a concern for our well-being but an attempt to scapegoat poor working people in the informal sectors of the economy that largely depend on these generators to power their little workshops and businesses. Given that these are also the big vote banks that voted in the government, it is a most unkind punitive pay back that threaten our right to employment and decent livelihood.”