TheNigerianVoice Online Radio Center

PHCN: Labour crisis may stall November 1 handover date, says BPE

By The Citizen

The Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) on Thursday said that the physical handover of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria's successor generation and distribution firms to their new owners might be delayed beyond November 1, 2013 until it was certain that all labour issues had been adequately settled.

The Director-General, BPE, Mr. Benjamin Dikki, who spoke on the sidelines of a power expo organised by the Federal Ministry of Power in Abuja said the agency would not confirm the handover date yet.

Dikki also announced that almost the entire $3bn generated from the sale of the electricity generation and distribution companies would be used to settle the severance entitlements of the workers.

The BPE had announced last week that it made $3bn from the sale of the power assets.

On why the Federal Government was unsure of the handover date to the new owners of the power firms, the BPE boss said the agency was still reviewing the issues.

He added, 'The official handover date will be announced appropriately. We are meeting tomorrow (today) to review the issues. If we think the issues that need to be addressed are properly addressed and that a handover can take place before or after November 1, we will announce to you.

'We want to make sure that the handover is done when all the critical issues like labour concerns are properly addressed. We will assess the progress of the payment exercise, find out if the bulk of the workers have received bank alerts for the severance package and the pension payout, and other issues.

'So, when we think all the critical issues have been properly addressed, then we will announce when we will do the formal handover.'

Asked to state how much of the $3bn would be used to settle the PHCN workers, Dikki said, 'Virtually all of it is going to labour payment. This has been communicated to them that the proceeds from the sale are going to be used to address the labour issues.

'There are many ways of corroborating this information. You can go and verify. The BPE has remitted the money to the Accountant-General of the Federation's office. The account-general's office is in the process of remitting the money to their individual Retirement Savings Accounts. I don't see what is hidden in this thing that should cause any ground for apprehension.'