25 July 2012, Sweetcrude, LAGOS – NIGERIA’s National Assembly joint Committee on Power has commenced investigation into the unpaid N400 billion pension fund for electricity workers, a labour leader in the sector said on Wednesday.
Mr Bede Opara, President, Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies, SSAEAC, in Lagos said that the union would await the outcome of the committee’s investigation.
“The joint committee on power in the Senate and House of Representatives have started their investigation.
“We met with the committee on the issue two days ago and another meeting is scheduled for next week.
“Anybody who is found guilty of mismanaging the N400 billion pension fund will be held liable,” Opara said.
Minister of Power, Prof. Barth Nnaji, had on Sunday asked Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, workers to find out from their union leaders what happened to their pension fund.
Nnaji, in the statement signed by his Special Assistant on Power, Mr Ogbuagu Anikwe, said that PHCN management and the labour leaders were the only trustees to the pension fund, adding that the union leaders were in a position to know what happened to the fund.
The investigation followed demand for the payment of severance package to about 50,000 workers that would be retired after the privatisation of 17 PHCN successor companies.
Opara said that prior to the introduction of Pension Reform Act in July 2004, PHCN operated an in-house pension scheme where 25 per cent of workers’ salaries were deducted and paid into their superannuation fund.
He said that the method enabled the workers to enjoy a scheme different from the contributory scheme most public sector organisations operated.
The SSAEAC president said that with the superannuation fund, no PHCN worker has ever been owed pension after retirement or after being laid off.
Opara said it was worrisome that PHCN claimed there was no money to pay the workers’ entitlement, even when the money was an accumulation of 25 per cent deduction from their salaries.