The sustained power blackout in Abia State which began last Monday as a result of the dispute between the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the outgoing Governor Okezie Ikpeazu administration ended last night following the intervention of the NLC president, Comrade Joe Ajaero, who is reported to have expressed displeasure at the consequences of the long outage.
“Electricity was restored at 8.15 pm yesterday”, according to a senior engineering manager in one of the electricity companies in Abia State who didn’t want his name revealed in the media because he is not authorised to speak to the media on the matter.
The whole state was thrown into darkness as a result of the dispute between the labour union and the Ikpeazu government over the welfare of retired and serving public servants in the state.
Most workers in state-owned enterprises and tertiary institutions are owed salaries for over six months while some pensioners have not received any pay in years.
The NLC consequently directed members of the affiliate organisations in Abia State to down tools from February 27.
Since the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) is an NLC affiliate, the members in Abia State joined the strike against the Ikpeazu administration’s treatment of its employees.
However, immediately he was informed of how hospitals, medical laboratories, diagnostic centres and other critical businesses were groaning as a result of the prolonged blackout, the NLC president, who used to be the NUEE secretary general, directed that electricity supply be restored without delay, according to Jude Efidi, an engineer and senior commercial manager with Aba Power.
Efidi said that factories, hotels, restaurants and small businesses were on the verge of collapse until the order to restore power supply was given.
He continued: “Tailors, shoemakers and others in Ariaria International Market in Aba and other places were besieging our offices in large numbers every hour, asking how they could help because they were thinking that the long outage, the first since Aba Power took over last year the Aba Ring-fenced Area which supplies electricity to nine out of the 17 local government areas in the state, was internal.
“But when we explained the cause to each group, they understood, pleading with us to put pressure on the authorities and the NLC to find an amicable and immediate solution to the crisis”.
“Ajaero is humane, considerate and reasonable”, observed Professor Chuka Chukwube of the University of Lagos who expressed concern that Governor Ikpeazu’s attitude forced the NLC to declare the strike amidst severe petrol and naira shortages at a time of a crucial national election.
“The state government has been owing fellow academics at the Abia State University and other higher institutions salaries and allowances for several months, turning respected lecturers and researchers into beggars.
“Nigerians are just delighted that the outage and general darkness in Abia State are over”.