17 July 2012, Sweetcrude, LAGOS – NIGERIA’s Senate has promised to work with the Bureau of Public Enterprises, BPE, to ensure the successful conclusion of the privatisation of the successor companies created from the unbundling of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, by the last quarter of 2012.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Privatisation, Senator Olugbenga Obadara, made the pledge when he and his team made an oversight visit to the Egbin Power Plc in Lagos.
He allayed the fears of the workers that they would be shortchanged in the privatisation exercise, saying, “Your entitlements will be paid. Privatisation is not to witchhunt or shortchange the workers.
“When the investors buy the companies, we will make sure you smile to your homes. We are also looking at privatisation holistically. It will bring prosperity.”
On the workers’ agitation that the calculation of their severance benefits should not be guided by the Pension Act of 2004, a member of the Senate Committee on Privatisation, Senator Adamu Gumba, urged them to familiarise themselves with the provisions of the law.
“The fear of leaving should not be there because you are the custodians of experience. Those that will leave will have a smooth exit. On the other hand, there is a legal provision governing pension in the country. Take another look at it. I advise you to negotiate with your pension administrator to pay you a certain percentage as a lump sum,” said Gumba, who is also a member of the Senate Committee on Labour.
“Unless you change the law, what you are asking for is not possible. When negotiating, make sure you go with existing laws in the country. BPE must work in accordance with the law,” he added.
In his remarks, the Chief Executive of Egbin Power Plc, Mr. Mike Uzoigwe, lamented the paucity of funds to address the challenges of the plant.
He revealed that five of the six turbines of the plant are operating. “We are not liquid. That is the bedrock of our problem. To overhaul a turbine, one will need about N5billion, yet our annual budget is about N1billion,” he said.