03 November 2015, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The Trade Union Congress (TUC) yesterday criticised the proposed payment of about N2.7 billion as severance allowance and gratuity to seven board members of the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC.
A statement signed by Comrade Bobboi Bala Kaigama and Musa Lawal, president and secretary-general, respectively, described the proposed payment as a reflection of the fact that the agency has lost touch with prevailing economic realities.
It further warned that paying that huge sum of money at a time the government is suffering from cash crunch would be a disservice to the people.
The statement reads: “The attention of the TUC has been drawn to reports of a resolution by the board of the NERC to pay the sum of N2.7billion to just seven of its members whose five-year tenure expires on 22nd of December, 2015. We consider the report as the most expensive jokes in recent times.
“The sum of N400 million is said to be projected for the Chairman of the Commission and N380 million for other members of the board. This is happening at a time when both the federal and state governments are crying over financial challenges. This can best be described as the peak of insensitivity and cruelty.”
The workers wondered why only seven government employees should be paid salaries upfront for two years after leaving office during which they would not be eligible to work in the power sector.
TUC said the situation becomes worse as the colossal sum of money, curiously termed “severance and gratuity,” includes the cost of their official cars, phone calls, electricity, rebate allowances, and others for their ‘part-service years.’
“How much does an average retiring civil servant who has served the country for 35 years get as severance benefits and gratuity? How justifiable is it for board members of a commission that tactfully midwived the ripping-off of Nigerians be paid such mind boggling sum of money for five-year ‘service’ to their fatherland? Why must the people at the lower rung of the ladder always be made to subsidise the greedy and insatiable appetites of the privileged few?” the union wondered.
The group said the NERC board members premised their claim on their proposed self-aggrandisement on the argument that their predecessors also received the same largesse.
“Furthermore, does the recent slump in price of oil in the international market from between $80 and $90 per barrel to between $45 and $50 not suggest the need for more frugal management of our national wealth?
“What rationale do these board members who championed crazy policies and bills to validate hike in electricity tariff have for their nauseating craving for such unholy windfall?” The group asked rhetorically.