16 February 015, Abuja – The Federal Government’s power sector reforms has come under pressure following a row between the Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo, and the Board of the Transmission Company of Nigeria, led by a former Executive Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, Ibrahim Waziri.
It was gathered that the row followed a directive to sack the Manitoba Hydro International-appointed Managing Director of TCN, Mr. Mack Kast, for disobeying presidential orders.
It was learnt that President Goodluck Jonathan directed the removal of the Manitoba boss for allegedly resisting the Federal Government’s decision to move the Ministry of Power from the Federal Secretariat, Abuja, to the headquarters of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria in Maitama.
Kast was said to have taken the matter to the industrial unions in the power sector to alert them of the government’s directive to move the TCN to the Gilmore House in Mabushi, Abuja.
It was learnt that the President, Nebo and some other top government officials were not happy with the fact that the Canadian company brought in members of the National Union of Electricity Employees to resist the directive.
Investigations revealed that the minister issued a directive to remove the Manitoba boss because of his resistance of the presidential directive.
It was further gathered that the Kast had the backing of the TCN Board chairman as well as that of the Director-General of the Bureau for Public Enterprises, Mr. Benjamin Dikki.
It was learnt that Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Adoke, had called the President’s attention to the fact that the minister was not empowered by law to suspend or sack the TCN boss.
Source said that the President then directed the minister to invoke his powers in the contract with Manitoba to call for the replacement of the current MD.
The source said, “The Federal Government wants the TCN MD to go because of his role in the recent decision of the government to give the headquarters of the former PHCN to the Ministry of Power.
“The Manitoba man met with NUEE officials, who have been resisting the decision to hand over the building to the ministry, when the minister wrote that the TCN should move to Gilmore House.
“He (Kast) instigated the union’s decision to resist the President because he is occupying the building. You know that the President gave a directive that the ministry should go to the PHCN headquarters. When the minister sent in the information that the ministry was moving in, he (Kast) called in the unions.
“The Power minister suspended him but the board said he (Nebo) had no such power; the attorney-general went to see the President to say that the minister cannot remove the MD and the President directed the minister to invoke the law. The minister then asked the TCN MD to go, but the board again said the minister had no such power. So, that is where we are now.”
It was learnt that Vice President Namadi Sambo held a meeting with key players in the sector on the current impasse on Friday.
It was gathered that the meeting, which held at the Presidential Villa, was attended by Nebo, the TCN board chairman, the ministry’s permanent secretary and other senior officials of the government but officials of the TCN and the ministry declined to comment on the issue.
It will be recalled that electricity workers had on January 18, 2015, staged a protest at the headquarters of the defunct PHCN after they were allegedly issued a notice to quit the building by the Federal Ministry of Power.
The Chairman, NUEE, Abuja chapter, Mr. Wisdom Nwachukwu, had told our correspondent that it was wrong for the government to ask the workers of the TCN to vacate the building when issues of their severance had not been settled.
Nwachukwu also confirmed to our correspondent on Sunday that of the brewing tension in the sector over the relocation of the workers of the transmission company.
He, however, maintained that the Manitoba boss was been blackmailed, stressing that Kast had no hand in the decision of the union to protest against the takeover of the PHCN building by the ministry.
Nwachukwu said, “We don’t need to get the MD of TCN before we do what is right. You know how we work as a union. Rather, I think that they want to make the man a victim of circumstance. There is a Nigerian cabal in the TCN because even before Manitoba came, we have been occupying that building. There are moles in the TCN working for the ministry and this is causing some form of division in the transmission company.
“So, it was a game plan by the cabal to unseat the MD because the white man has been a pain in their ass by not allowing them to carry out their shoddy activities. As a result, they have been looking for an opportunity to unseat him, and when this thing happened, they took him to the ministry and blackmailed him that he was the one that asked us to protest.
“Another thing is that before receiving the MD to that building, we had already told the ministry that they could not take over the PHCN headquarters. So, how will anybody say it is the MD that instigated the union? Is it from the management of Manitoba that we are getting our information? And I will like to also make it known that the ministry does not have the right to sack the MD but the board of the electricity transmission company.”