18 November 2011, Sweetcrude, Abuja – Nigeria’s Federal Government says it is determined to protect all electricity installations in the country despite protests from workers of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) over government’s deployment of soldiers in their offices and its other installations.
In a statement, Thursday, the Ministry of Power said its resolve to protect the facilities was because of current security challenges, noting that the situation warranted the deployment of security personnel in all major infrastructure in the country in order to protect government’s investments.
The statement signed by the ministry’s Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Greyne Anosike, noted that the decision was a pre-emptive measure to protect the citizens employed in the different organisations and safeguard electricity installations.
The statement read in part, “Government, therefore, wishes to remind all PHCN staff and indeed, all Nigerians, that electricity is one of those critically vital infrastructure (essential services) where workers must not go on strike as doing so is tantamount to wilfully removing the life support upon which the sovereignty of Nigeria is sustained. Even at that, doing so under any guise, would be seen by this government as a heinous crime against the state.”
“The security personnel are under strict instructions to protect the lives of workers and guard installations from possible terror attacks, which would undoubtedly throw the nation into total darkness, thereby weakening the present government’s efforts to sustain the gains so far made in the economy.”
It added, “We are to reiterate that the commendable decision to protect power installations throughout the country conforms to the proactive steps already taken to protect public institutions such as hotels, ministries and government agencies, sea and airports as well as tourist destinations in the country.”
The statement further advised all electricity workers and citizens in general to support the power sector reform and refrain from any action that could dampen the ongoing measures to break a century old jinx in the sector.
The ministry also restated Federal Government’s commitment to implementing the 50 per cent wage increase for PHCN workers but insisted that the workers must participate in the ongoing biometric verification exercise in order to guard against ghost workers.
According to the statement, government observation on the wage bill gives the indication that some supposed PHCN workers may actually be ghost workers, thereby channelling public funds to non-existent workers.
The statement said, “As a measure to avert this, and in conformity with global best practices in human resource management, all PHCN staff have been directed to subject themselves to biometric data capturing similar to what obtains in government ministries and agencies throughout the federation.
“The resistance by the PHCN workers negates the policy trust of the present administration on power and, therefore, unacceptable to the government. Biometric data capturing can only be resisted by workers who are benefiting from a porous system that condones corruption.”