Govt strips Manitoba Hydro of concession status

Oscarline Onwuemenyi

04 April 2013, Sweetcrude, ABUJA – The Federal Government on Thursday declared that Manitoba Hydro International of Canada was never appointed as concessioneer over the Transmission Company of Nigeria, TCN.

Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo clarified that the role of Manitoba Hydro International in the running of the nation’s transmission network is that of delegated authority given to a management outfit with international clout, for a stipulated period of 3 – 5 years.

Professor Nebo said the clarification has become necessary in order to erase the impression being created especially among labour unions in the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), that Manitoba has already taken position as concessioneers of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN).

Nebo, who was speaking at a meeting to iron out lingering issues between officials of Manitoba Hydro and PHCN Union Executives, in Abuja, further enjoined the Manitoba Management to respect the rights of Nigerian workers as entrenched in the law of the land, while in turn, the workers should work with Manitoba, so as to take the power sector to the next level, with the required international bias, which the company is known for.

He noted that, “In today’s world everything must be bench-marked within the dictate of international standard, hence we must provide the enabling environment at this stage of our transition for business to thrive.”

The Minister informed the Manitoba officials of the uniqueness of the sector in Nigeria, noting that, “We want peace to reign, the work in the hands of Manitoba is enormous, we must have a robust transmission network, as power warehouse is a waste, so that is why Manitoba is very important.”

According to him, “Nobody takes over without settlement, workers are Nigerians like us, TCN is 100% wholly owned by the Government, there is no-going to be lay-off, management is done through agreement. Let no one fear, Manitoba Hydro International is under the Board of TCN which is turn under the Power Ministry.”

On the status of GENCOs and DISCOs, the Minister said the privatization programme is on-course as the preferred bidders have only paid 25%, because of the huge budgetary requirement to settle all workers, Government would require them to pay up 75% before final take-over.

In his contribution, the Chief Executive Officer of TCN, Mr. Don Priestsman called on organised labour in the power sector to join hands with the management of the Company to solve the challenges faced in the sector.

“We need to co-operate, we have to work, so as to make productive reform for the power sector work,” he said.

He added that he was determined to contribute his own quota in the quest of building a viable company that everyone would be proud of, hence no need for any apprehension from labour.

“We are not with any ulterior motive, but our sole interest is to work hard to put Nigeria where it should be with regards to power supply,” he declared.

Earlier, the representative of Labour, Comrade Joe Ajaero, promised the Minister, that labour is committed to making privatization work, but quick to add that labour would not seat on the fence and watch her being short charged.

He accused past Government of failing to address genuine concerns of labour “a situation where-in a worker, who has worked for 30 years, now transferred to a new Company, and you are now saying he would be paid by the new Company, thus before the process is complete he must be adequately compensated, otherwise it is unacceptable to labour.”

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