21 November 2011, Sweetcrude, Lagos – Employees of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), who refused to take part in the biometric verification exercise as directed by the Nigerian government will be denied their salaries, henceforth, Minister of Power, Prof. Bart Nnaji, told journalists in Lagos.
They will also not benefit from the 50 per cent salary increase the government has announced for the workers, begining from this month ending.
The minister, who said the government had directed that all its workers have their status biometrically verified and that nobody, including ministers, was exempted from the exercise, stated that though some PHCN workers had done their verification, many were still adamant about complying with the directive.
“I am a minister and I was biometrically verified. Every government worker needs the verification to get paid. So, we really have to ask why some people do not want to subject themselves to this verification,” he said, in a veiled reference to allegation by the Bureau of Public Enterprises that the workers were refusing to participate in the biometric verification exercise in order to hide ghost workers.
On the 50 per cent increase in salary of PHCH workers, Nnaji said the ministry was ready to pay N3 billion each for the months of June, July and August, noting, “We already have the N9bn to pay, but without the biometric verification, there will be no payment.”
He said the country was currently generating 4,300 megawatts of electricity, of which 4,000MW was being used, while the remaining was reserved.
In a statement issued on Friday by the BPE spokesman, Mr. Chukwuma Nwokoh, the bureau said a number of ghost workers had already been uncovered through the verification exercise, as it alleged that the electricity workers’ union was sabotaging the process to prevent more revelations.
Nwokoh said the strike embarked on by the National Union of Electricity Employees and Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies last week to protest the non-implementation of an agreement with the government on the 50 per cent pay rise was illegal.
He said before the verification exercise was halted, the consultant handling it had already discovered some ghost workers.
Nwokoh said, “In the wake of the suspension of the exercise, BPE staff, who were at the various locations, discovered ghost workers on the payroll of PHCN and the unions were obviously concerned about the development, which might explain why they forcibly ejected the consultants.
“We also state that the unions’ claim that only casual employees were supposed to be captured is an afterthought. They had agreed at the various meetings between the privatisation body and the unions that the exercise would capture both the staff and casual workers.”
He said the Federal Government had kept faith with the implementation of the three agreements reached with the electricity workers, adding that it was wrong for anyone to expect some payment without verification and weeding out of ghost employees.