Why we suspended strike — Energy Commission Workers

Workers of Energy Commission of Nigeria (ECN) protest
Workers of Energy Commission of Nigeria (ECN) protest

Workers at the Energy Commission of Nigeria (ECN) have explained why they suspended their over one month sit-in industrial action ‘temporarily’.

The union on Thursday called off the strike it embarked on June 19.

Labour ministry spokesperson, Samuel Olowookere, in a statement in Abuja Wednesday said the workers had been directed to resume work on Thursday (today) and allow the reappointed Director-General of the commission, Eli-Jidere Bala, unfettered access to his office according to Punch Newspaper. Promise Chukwu, the chairman of the union however said the strike was only suspended to allow the Economic Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) and the Department of State Security, (DSS) to continue with their investigations unhindered.

“We hereby disclaim reports by some section of the media that it was the intervention of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment that resolved the matter,” Mr Chukwu said in a statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES Thursday.

“We the over 75 per cent of ECN Staff observing the peaceful sit-in protest decided on our own to temporarily suspend the protest to allow EFCC and the DSS to continue with their investigations unhindered.”

The staff union of the ECN have for months been protesting over alleged administrative anomalies.

The workers in November 2017 embarked on a three-day warning strike accusing the management of the commission of several labour maltreatment, including people not getting promotion when due and lack of training for workers.

Last month, the workers embarked on a sit-in industrial action to express their displeasure over the reappointment of Eli Bala as the Director-General of the commission.

During the strike, the workers only come to work but will not enter their offices or attend to any official work.

According to the union, the commission was under-performing because Mr Bala ”does not understand its core mandate”.

The workers accused Mr Bala, a professor, of misappropriating the funds of the commission, adding that there was a breach of administrative procedure in his appointment.

The staffers further petitioned the EFCC over the alleged misappropriation of funds.

Mr Bala took over leadership of the commission in 2013 and his first tenure ended in May 5, before his reappointment.

In the Thursday statement, Mr Chukwu noted that efforts were made to bring the matter to the attention of President Muhammadu Buhari and other relevant state institutions and actors.

“Unfortunately, up till the time of this press statement, there is no any official response to our communications, either discarding or confirming our allegations against Prof. E. J. Bala. Nigeria being a democratic state, we believe, we deserve response, especially under government of “Change”, our voice must be heard and even be held accountable for our claims after due diligence.”

Calls and text messages to the phone of Mr Bala to respond to allegations against his office by the workers were not responded.

ECN’s mandate is to prepare periodic master plans for the balanced and coordinated development of energy in Nigeria, after consultation with agencies of government whose functions are related to the field of energy development and supply.

It is also charged with the responsibility for strategic planning and coordination of national policies in the field of energy.


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