27 September 2013, ABUJA — The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Power, Godknows Igali, yesterday, explained that the delay in payment of the entitlements of disengaged staff of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, was to ensure that no mistakes were made.
In an interview with newsmen after a meeting with Vice President Namadi Sambo at the Presidential Villa, Igali said the delay not withstanding, remarkable progress has been achieved in the privatisation of the disbundled PHCN.
According to him, all issues relating to labour and others would be resolved before the handover and takeover, adding that “There is progress in the handing over of the 10 distribution companies and four generating companies, we are in the last stages. A formal ceremony will take place to hand over the documents to the new owners.
“There will be no physical handover until the end of this year. We are starting with handing over of the documents, the protocol ceremony for Mr. President to preside over after which, we have one month to undertake cropping issues, for example labour.
“We are making very good progress to ensure that all workers are paid. When you are dealing with paying accounts of workers, about 40,000 people, you have to be careful because it is not something you rush into.
“So, we think that when the hand over of the documents is done, we still have another one month to ensure that we look into claims and so on before the final physical take off.”
Igali said the meeting with Sambo was a periodic review of progress on work on the power plants and the need to deal with issues pertaining to ensuring that when the project eventually comes on stream, there would be supply of gas.
He said the implementation of the present administration’s power masterplan was encouraging, adding that Nigerians should be optimistic.
“All things are going on very well. Let’s be optimistic. The other sectors that the private sector took over, there is an exponential change in the sector. We saw it in telecommunication. You all were here when it takes a day before you make a call before private sector took over. But today, Nigerians have access to telephones.
“In the banking sector, when you go to banks, you queue up for almost a whole day taking a tally to wait. Today, you can stay in your office and perform your banking transactions because the private sector took over.
“In the power sector, the government has gone to the private sector and they have shown strong and robust commitment to this country. Despite the fact that we still have power outages, the private sector have shown robust commitment that they are committed to working together with the government.”
“Everybody around the world said that it will not work, that in Nigeria nobody buy assets. But there are Nigerian businessmen, bankers teamed up with people to buy these assets and they want to bring in the dynamism, the effectiveness of the private sector.
“Let’s give them a chance and see how they are going to transform the power sector, let us be optimistic and hopeful. So far we have done well with the process, We have been transparent and now we are in the last point of handing over to the private sector.”
“In the short term, there will be appreciable result and when we get to the medium, the country will be better for it,” the permanent secretary added.
*Ben Agande, Vanguard