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By NBF News
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THE spokesperson of government for the ongoing negotiations between government and labour on the reforms in the power sector, Dr. Timiebi Koripamo-Agary, has refuted the report that 17, 000 fake workers were found in the biometric verification of electricity workers.

In an interview with The Guardian, Agary stressed that the process was ongoing and had not ended.  While not wanting to be dragged into how many ghost workers had been found, she stressed that as at February 18, 2012, a total of 4106 casual workers had been verified out of the 10, 000 originally listed as the number of casual workers in the sector.

She was optimistic that the figure would have since changed, as the committee was yet to submit a formal report.

She added:  The process has not been concluded. Yes, there are queries on the original numbers tendered as total workforce at PHCN, but the 17, 000 figure cannot be correct.

'It is work in progress. There are grey areas that consultants are resolving. For instance, there were people who couldn't be physically captured, because they were either ill or away on Hajj. We are giving them the opportunities to clear themselves. Those are being sorted out now and the final figures would be compiled soon.'

At the fourth day of the fourth round of negotiations on the power sector reforms between the Federal Government and the three labour unions of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, a memo from the government had disclosed that 4106 casual workers had been verified as existing and the closing date for the exercise was to be March 6 or March 9.

Confirming that the two dates were initially considered to finish the biometric verification, stressed, however, that the consultants were asked to go and sort out the grey areas.

In a memorandum on items to be negotiated submitted by government to the chief negotiator between government and labour, the spokesman for the government team, Agary, stressed that 4106 casual staff had been verified as at February 18, 2012.

On the regularisation of casual workers, the document, obtained by The Guardian recently, noted: 'The regularisation process for this category of staff is on-going and is expected to be concluded shortly. However, as at February 18, 2012, 4106 casual staff had been verified and will be subsequently regularised. However, it should be noted that the regularisation will be based on the certificates presented at the entry of point of appointment as a casual. For casual workers whose appointment has been regularised, their pension and gratuity benefits shall be negotiated.'