29 October 2013, Lagos – Over 2,000 workers of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) embarked on a protest Monday over the delay in the payment of the severance benefits to about 55 per cent of electricity workers.
This came as the Special Assistant to Mr. President on Power, Professor Abubakar Sanni Sambo, yesterday said with the concerted efforts by the President Goodluck Jonathan-led administration towards reforming the power sector and attaining the 20-20 Vision on adequate electricity supply in the next two years, the country would experience adequate power supply.
The workers, under the aegis of the National Union of Electrical Employees (NUEE), staged the protest at the Eko and Ikeja Electricity Distribution Companies and threatened to commence indefinite strike on November 1. The workers locked the gates to the two offices and prevented people from entering the premises.
“The reports reaching the union is that majority of the banks cannot give financial backing to the schedule sent to them by the federal government. This means that government does not have money,’’ Adeleke Ibrahim, the Chairman of Lagos Chapter of NUEE, who led the protest, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
The union official said if the workers’ entitlements were not paid by the end of October, the entire workforce of PHCN in all the 36 states would embark on an indefinite strike.
Ibrahim said the union was not against the privatisation of the company, “but government should pay all workers’ entitlements before the new owners will commence operation.”
He appealed to government to ensure that all the agreements it signed with the workers were met to avert the strike.
Ibrahim said some of the issues in contention included non-payment of retirement savings to pension fund administrators and non-remittance of dues of two per cent deducted from workers’ salaries to the unions.
Others are non-payment of benefits of retirees who disengaged in 2011 and non-regularisation of service of some casual workers.
Meanwhile, Sambo, while calling on Nigerians to key into this transformation agenda of the president on electricity supply, noted that without adequate supply of power, the country would keep experiencing low business growth.
According to him, “Electricity supply is so low in Nigeria. This has adversely affected business generally. Until there is a significant improvement in power supply, there will not be development in the business cycle.
Little wonder then that Mr. President is working frantically to achieve the transformation agenda on adequate electricity supply for the teeming Nigerian populace. In two years’ time, the country will enjoy highly improved power supply.”
The special adviser who also doubles as Chairman Award Committee on International Institute for Training, Research, and Economic Development (IITRED), enjoined Nigerians to develop interest in research for national development.
He also called for more funds for the various research institutes in the country as a means of breaking new ground in every area of human endeavours.
The President of IITRED, Sani Dawop said after critical screening of all the candidates presented for the award, only one of them met the criteria for the award.
Dawop said the award will take place today in Abuja, with President Jonathan as the special guest of honour, and will also declare it open.
He also said the award will attract the crème de la crème of the society.
– This Day