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FG MAY WITHHOLD N9BN PHCN WORKERS' SALARY, SAYS NNAJI

By NBF News
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The Federal Government has threatened to withhold the N9 billion set aside for 50 per cent increase in Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) staff salary, if they fail to comply to directives to get their data captured under the on-going biometric verification exercise.

Nnaji disclosed this during a Press conference in Lagos over the weekend, stating that the government had already secured the money from the Ministry of Finance for payment to PHCN staff, lamenting that the leadership of the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE), had compelled the PHCN staff to boycott the verification exercise. The minister said government had also resolved to opt for the principle of 'no verification, no payment'.

'In consideration of the above, let it be made crystal clear that the nine billion naira (N9b) which?the Federal Government has made available to the PHCN management for the payment of the 50 per cent increase in staff salary for the months of June, July and August will be paid to only PHCN staff members who have been verified. Any person who refuses to provide biometric data by the end of November will earn any salary,' the minister said.

According to Nnaji, the Ministry of Power considers it akward that the NUEE general secretary has vehemently rejected the Federal Government policy that all public service employees, including ministers, undergo biometric verification.

He stated: 'All Federal Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) have undergone biometric verification, which entails the provision of appointment letters, staff numbers, fingerprints and other simple requirements. The exercise has revealed a huge percentage of ghost workers. It beats?the imagination that Mr Ajaero should ferociously object to the conduct of the verification exercise in the PHCN, an exercise which is in furtherance of the values of accountability, transparency, integrity and good governance.

'In consideration of the above, let it be made crystal clear that the nine billion naira (N9illion) which the Federal Government has made available to the PHCN management for the payment of the 50% increase in staff salary for the months of June, July and August will be paid to only PHCN staff members who have been verified. Any person who refuses to provide biometric data by the end of November will earn any salary.

'The effort of one or two trade unionists to sabotage the ongoing electric power sector reform will not work.  The nation cannot be held hostage any more by people working in cahoots with the electricity cabal which does not want improved power supply because of the blood money it makes from the misery of our people. The Federal Government remains resolute in the determination to implement the reform to the letter. The reform is in conformity with the 2005 Electric Power Sector Reform Act (ESPRA),' he stated.

He added that President Goodluck Jonathan ordered the Nigerian Custom Service to immediately release the equipment of the National Integrated Power Project (NIPP), which it earlier auctioned.

The minister maintained that the ministry of power has fulfilled the President's directive that it should begin the alternative power generation from coal, wind and sun. The NCS, it would be recalled auctioned 17 containers belonging to the National Integrated Power Project (NIPP) and the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) and Nnaji who promised that the delay to clear the equipment, which led to the auctioning would not happen again stated that the 'whole issue retrogressed the nation's power programme.'

According to him, the power ministry would commission the wind plant in Kastina state before the end of the year to show its serious to explore alternative power generation. Stating that the power generation in Nigeria has topped 4, 300 Mega Watts (MW) the minister stated that the Jonathan-led administration was ready to quash any impediment to its resolve to bring Nigeria out of the shackles of darkness.