12 August 2014, Abuja – The Bureau of Public Enterprises on Monday said 98 per cent of workers of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria had received their severance and gratuity entitlements.
It disclosed this at the inaugural National Council on Power conference in Abuja.
The Director-General, BPE, Mr. Benjamin Dikki, said labour issues would have stalled the privatisation process if the government had not reached an agreement with the workers.
The Federal Government was locked in negotiations with the organised labour for over 14 months before an agreement was reached on how the workers were to be settled.
Dikki said, “So far, 98 per cent of the 47,913 workers of the PHCN have been paid their severance and pension gratuities. Out of the 47,900, who were identified as staff, 46,326 were validated; 45,750 have had their forms submitted to the accountant-general’s office and have been paid.
“Out of that number, 365 have retired and were handled with the retirees. So, we have only 201 outstanding payments that have been validated and they are in the process of being effected. We have yet to validate 656 members of staff and 722 unidentified faces. So, that is the situation for the active staff members.
“The sum of N371bn has been remitted to the accountant-general’s office and all the payments have been effected. For retirees, we have identified 4,146 of them and we have verified 3,233; about 930 didn’t show up for verification. Out of these, 1,083 have already been paid; 358 are undergoing auditing to validate the retirees; and computation is going on for 391 of them to determine their entitlements. And 381 are undergoing one process or the other.”
According to Dikki, N10bn has already been remitted to the accountant-general’s office to effect the payment of the retirees and some other persons.
“So, a total of N382bn has already been remitted to effect payment of these retirees and others. And there is funding for all those that are not yet verified. As soon as they are verified, remittance will be made appropriately for their payments. It is not a money problem but a verification issue, for we don’t want to pay any ghost worker or retiree,” he added.
Speaking on the significance of the privatisation exercise, Dikki said there was a direct relationship between power and affluence for economic development.
He noted that the more power was available to the citizenry, the more there would be development and affluence.
The BPE boss said, “Different strategies had to be adopted for the privatisation of the power sector. For the Discos, 60 per cent of the equity was sold to the buyers, while 40 per cent was retained in order to address the investments of state governments that have invested in power infrastructure.
“The NERC is in the process of valuing such investments and once that is concluded, the states will be allocated shares from that 40 per cent based on the level of investment they have made in the distribution companies. Some of the shares were also reserved for the staff.”
Dikki also said the Transmission Company of Nigeria was not privatised due to the huge capital outlay required to bring it up to speed.
He said, “But the TCN, because of the huge investment that is required and also because of the current level of losses, it was not possible to privatise the transmission company immediately. What was done was to go into a management contract so that the quality and integrity of the system can be improved.
“Probably down the road, concession could be considered or on the long run, privatisation. By the time the market attains 50,000MW or 100,000MW, that might be a possibility, because then, the wheeling charges that the TCN charges may be sufficient to support such a proposition.”
Dikki said there was no investment in electricity infrastructure from 1991 to 1999.
He noted that the newest plant then was built in 1990, while the last transmission line, before the recent interventions, was built in 1987.
“An estimated 90 million people were not having access to electricity on the national grid. And it was estimated that 50 per cent of the power generated was lost in transmission,” he added.
Earlier in his address, the Minister of State for Power, Mr. Mohammed Wakil, said the National Council on Privatisation was certified by the Federal Ministry of Power in 2013 and was approved by President Goodluck Jonathan in February this year.
He said the objective of the NCP was to deliberate on issues affecting the power sector and work out ways to move the industry forward.
– The Punch