*Insists Commission’s action is legal
04 December 2015, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The Chairman of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, Dr. Sam Amadi has defended allegations that members of his board had awarded themselves golden retirement parachutes to the tune of N2.7 billion.
The Commission has been accused of unilaterally fixing salaries and allowances of its Board and staff members without recourse to the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission, NSIWC, as required by relevant laws.
Also, it was revealed that NERC Board and staff members enjoy allowances for diesel and generator sets for use in their houses, which raises a moral question.
The revelations came to the fore during the first day of an investigative public hearing to probe the activities of NERC by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Power at the National Assembly yesterday.
The three-day public hearing was sequel to the House resolution of November 4, 2015 halting the planned payment of N2.7 billion by the Board of NERC to its members following a motion moved on the floor of the House.
Amadi, while making submissions before the House of Representatives Committee on Power, denied plan to pay N2.7 billion to seven NERC commissioners, saying it was actually N2 billion that was earmarked for a “Sinking Fund”, which is aimed at catering for retirement benefits of staff of the commission in future when due.
Amadi explained that the decision was based on actuarial valuation by experts and advice by PenCom.
He also revealed that based on a provision of the NERC Act, its commissioners are not supposed to work in the power industry for a period of two years after retirement from the commission, which was why there is a provision for them to be paid for two years in deferment.
“The two-year deferment was approved by the President, and the present commissioners didn’t do anything to add up to their entitlements,” he said.
But lawmakers countered Amadi, saying based on NERC’s written submissions, there was a severance package approved in 2006, while another one was approved on August 15, 2014 which was reviewed upward.
They observed that although the 2006 approval for severance package was 300 per cent of annual basic salary, the review of 2015 was 100 per cent of gross income on all staff, demanding to know whether the approvals were done by the NSIWC.
Amadi noted that NERC was not bound to abide NSIWC’s decision or formula in fixing salaries and allowances of its staff, adding the commission is empowered by a presidential directive to fix its emoluments as its actions are backed by the Pension Act.