Thursday

Power firms: FG insists on Nov 1 handover

The much anticipated conclusion of the privatisation of
the power sector is enveloped in uncertainty following
conflicting signals emanating from key stakeholders on
the scheduled handover of the successor companies of
the Power Holding Company of Nigeria tomorrow
(Friday).
While the Federal Government is insisting that there is
no going back on the handover date, the PHCN workers
are gearing up for a nationwide strike to prevent the
handover, claiming that their terminal entitlements have
not been fully paid.
The consortia that won the bids for the successor power
firms, on the other hand, are anxiously waiting to
receive the nod from the government to take over the
firms so that they can begin the implementation of their
turnaround plans.
To underline its seriousness about the November 1
handover of the firms to the new investors, the Federal
Government has deployed ministers and key officials to
the various locations of the successor companies to
handle the transfer of ownership on its behalf.
It insisted that 40,093 out of the 47,913 identified
workers of the PHCN had been fully paid their
entitlements, which were put at N294.4bn, while
N214.2bn was paid as severance package, with the
workers’ pension gulping N80.2bn.
The National Union of Electricity Employees is, however,
disputing the payment of the pension contributions, and
has vowed to call the workers out on an indefinite
strike.
The Federal Government, through the Bureau of Public
Enterprises, on Wednesday released the schedule for the
handover, with key government officials mandated to
represent Vice-President Namadi Sambo, who is also
the Chairman, National Council on Privatisation at the
various locations.
According to a statement by the BPE, the Minister of
Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo, will hand over the Abuja
Distribution Company to KANN Utility Consortium in
Abuja; the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala,
will hand over the Ibadan Distribution Company to
Integrated Energy Distribution & Marketing Limited;
while the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Deziani
Alison-Madueke, will give out the Enugu Distribution
Company to Interstate Electrics Limited.
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr.
Olusegun Aganga, will give out the Eko Distribution
Company to West Power & Gas; the Minister of
Transport, Idris Umar, is expected to hand over the
Kainji Electricity Distribution Company to Mainstream
Energy Solutions Limited; while the Attorney-General of
the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed
Adoke, will handle the transfer of the Yola distribution
Company to Integrated Energy Distribution and
Marketing Limited.
Similarly, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development,
Mr. Musa Sada, will oversee the handing over of the
Kano Distribution Company to Sahelian Power SPV
Limited; the Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku,
will transfer the Jos Distribution Company to Aura
Energy Limited; the Minister of Labour, Chief Emeka
Wogu, will hand over the Ughelli Generation Company to
Transcorp Ughelli Power Plc; while the Minister of State
for Works, Ambassador Bashir Yuguda, will preside over
the handing over of the Shiroro Generation Company to
North-South Power Company.
The Director-General, BPE, Mr. Benjamin Dikki, is
expected to hand over the Ikeja Distribution Company
and Egbin Power Plant to NEDC/KEPCO Consortium; the
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Power, Dr. Godswill
Igali, will handle the transfer of the Port Harcourt
Distribution Company to 4Power Consortium; the
Chairman, Presidential Task Force on Power, Mr. Beks
Dagogo-Jack, will hand over the Benin Distribution
Company to Vigeo Power Consortium; while the Group
Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum
Corporation, Mr. Andrew Yakubu, will preside over the
transfer of the Geregu Generation Company to Amperion
Power Distribution.
Dikki said, “This handover is a culmination of 14 years
of painstaking effort by the National Council on
Privatisation, Bureau of Public Enterprises and other key
stakeholders to reform and liberalise Nigeria’s electricity
industry, which began in 1999.”
Igali also said this while briefing State House
correspondents on the outcome of a meeting between
the stakeholders in the power privatisation process and
Sambo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja that the
government was sure of a successful handing over since
it had made a significant progress in settling the
disengaged workers.
Igali explained that while the severance packages went
directly into the bank accounts of beneficiaries, the
gratuity was paid to their pension fund custodians.
He added that the documents of additional 605 workers,
who were validated on Tuesday, had been sent for
payment.
The permanent secretary, however, said the government
currently had issues with some workers, whose
biometric data were corrupted.
He said those under this category, 1,478 workers from
the Enugu Distribution Company and 929 others
nationwide would be invited to Abuja for recapturing.
Igali said the government also had issues with another
1,000 workers who had been cleared but had cases of
duplication of names and account numbers, while
describing as bad cases those of 2,500 whom he said
had no record that they were PHCN workers probably
because they were casual workers.
However, the NUEE directed the workers to withdraw
their services if the government eventually went ahead
with the handover of the PHCN subsidiary companies to
private investors on Friday.
The Secretary General, NUEE, Mr. Joe Ajaero, in a
statement on Wednesday, said outstanding labour
issues had yet to be resolved by the Federal
Government; adding that the plan to hand over the
power assets negated the agreement it reached with the
union.
“By this statement, we urge all workers of PHCN to
withdraw their services from any unit in the event of
further provocation by armed military personnel
desperate to take over PHCN installations. This is to
avoid confrontations with the troops from November 1,
2013,” he said.
Ajaero noted that the gratuity payment was only 68 per
cent completed, adding that no member of staff has had
their pension contributions transferred into their
Retirement Savings Accounts.
He said, “Those that retired from service since 2011
have not received their benefits totalling about N19bn.
The differences of the shortfall of the terminal benefits
from June 30, 2012 till date have not been considered
for payment.
“The biometrically captured and considered casuals’
appointment has not been addressed. The question of
10 per cent equity shareholding (in the companies) by
the workers as statutorily provided has not been given
attention.
“While we appreciate and sympathise with the core
investors, we ask for their understanding and that of the
Nigerian public in our pursuit to ensure a seamless
transition. We are resolute on receiving every kobo owed
us as we are sure such liabilities will not be borne by
the new investors unless there is a commitment to that
effect from them.”
The President-General, Senior Staff Association of
Electricity and Allied Companies, Mr. Bede Opara, stated
that although all government agencies concerned in the
process had made tremendous efforts at settling the
workers, what was remaining was the payment of the
employees’ pensions.
He stated that the workers would not have been
interested in embarking on a strike, but maintained that
the handover of the firms would not be fair if all issues
were not amicably resolved.

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