TheNigerianVoice Online Radio Center

No going back on Nov 1st PHCN assets handover - FG insists

By The Citizen

The Federal Government today said it would go ahead with the physical hand over of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) assets across the country to the new owners on November 1.

Adding that 6000 out of the 47,913 workers are yet to be verified and paid their entitlements.

Briefing State House correspondents on the outcome of the all stakeholders in the power privatisation process meeting presided over by Vice President Namadi Sambo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Power, Godknows Igali, stated that the handing over which will be preceded by a brief symbolic ceremonies that will hold simultaneously across the country since significant progress in settling the disengaged workers

Igali accompanied  by the Director-General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises, Benjamin Dikki; and the Director-General of the Budget Office, Dr. Bright Okogu, disclosed that 40,093 out of the 47,913 identified disengaged PHCN workers had been fully paid their entitlements which he put at N294.4billion.

He said while N214.2billion was paid as their severance package, their pension was N80.2billion.

Igali explained that while the severance package went directly into the bank accounts of beneficiaries, the gratuity payments were made to their pension fund custodian.

He further stated that the documents of additional 605 workers who were validated on Tuesday had been sent for payment.

Igali disclosed that the government currently has issues with some workers whose biometric data were corrupted.

Those under this category, are  1,478 from Enugu Distribution Company and 929 others nationwide, who would be invited to Abuja for recapturing.

He said the government also had issues with 1,000 workers who have been cleared but have cases of duplication of names or account numbers.

The ones he described as bad cases were 2,500 workers whom he said had no record that they are PHCN workers probably because they are casual workers.

Igali however assured that with the directive from President Goodluck Jonathan,  their case would also be addressed since some people have identified them to be workers of PHCN.

He said that despite the continous threat by the workers, the government is enjoying good working relationship with labour on the privatisation of the sector.

Igali said, 'We will go on with the process. Physical handing over of assets will take place as scheduled simultaneously across the country on November 1. It will be brief symbolic ceremony.

'Labour has shown a lot of cooperation. We enjoy working with them. With these payments, we are home and dry.

'Let me add that paying these workers does not mean we are sending them into the labour market. A lot of them will still be recruited by the private sector while the dead woods will obviously be dropped. New blood will also be injected into the system.

'The truth is that payments are going on. We cannot sit here to deceive anybody. It is not in the interest of the government or anybody to do so.

'For the remaining number, once we capture Enugu 1,478 people and we bring in the other people,we will virtually be left with just about 2000 people to clear and I think that will take place in the next one week or so. What is important is that we have received the directive from Mr. President that every Nigerian who has been identified as a bonafide staff of PHCN must be given his total due.'

Also speaking, Dikki said handing over of PHCN assets does not mean power situation would change immediately as the private investors would need time to put logistics in place.

He expressed hope that there would be influx of fund that will improve power supply in six months.

Okogu on his part described the privatisation of the power sector as a complex one, saying the government was pleased to have reached the present stage.

He commended labour leaders for their maturity and described the payment of the workers as a demonstration of government's commitment to ensure that the process succeeds.

Speaking on the Metering gap Igali said this is of concerned to all of all the stakeholders, but assured that the new owners will perfect the process, improve services and make money. 'The meters are going to be free. Nigerians should expect more equity, fairness and improve services'

On tariffs, he noted that there are different metering structure that have been out in place, adding that the expected increases will be Progressive.

'We are at the thresh hold of a new revolution. New jobs will be created. People will recharge their power from their phones. They will engage some of the workers currently working with Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, that are being disengaged'

He, however expressed serious concern over issues of vandalization of power holding facilities including gas pipeline adding that this is of of concern, to the government.

'Why are they going to blow up gas pipe lines in six places under water'.