The Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo, has given reasons why some workers of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria have not been paid their severance packages two weeks after the Federal Government gave out the PHCN successor companies to private investors.
Nebo spoke during the opening of a new power transmission sub-station in Ibadan on Friday. He said there was a provision for payment to all the workers, but that inconsistent personal information submitted to his ministry and pension fund management companies by some of the workers, delayed their payment.
“We are working hard to ensure that all members of staff of the former PHCN are paid their entitlements. There are about 7,000 left, whose biometrics were not perfect. The problem is that they were inconsistent in the information they gave to us. Some of them opened more than one bank account and submitted different names to the pension fund managers. We are trying to clear all these anomalies before making the payment,” the minister explained.
Nebo also addressed the issue of workers who entered the PHCN system outside the normal employment process, saying they were not left out of the payment scheme.
He said, “There are also some of them who came into the system in a casual arrangement. We are working hard with the Ministry of Labour to formalise their status so that we can accommodate them.
“The handover (of the successor firms) was seamless and I appeal to the workers of the defunct PHCN and those with the new distribution and generation companies that the government will fulfil its obligation to them.”
The minister, however, reiterated that improvement in power generation and distribution would not be sudden despite the takeover of the sector by the private investors, urging consumers to ensure that they pay their bills and resist the temptation to tamper with the metering system.
He said, “What has happened recently in Nigeria is unprecedented because it is the first time in Africa that a country is privatising its power sector in a large scale. But you cannot jump at a result immediately.”
“The Federal Government recently opened a 434 megawatts power station in Geregu and there are more sub-stations coming up. We will be in Yola soon to open another one as we try to improve facility for power generation.
“As citizens of this country, we also have several roles to play in this process. Consumers should make prompt payment of their bills and they should leave the meters the way they were made by the manufacturers.
“The new companies know that the only way to make the best of their investment is to ensure that consumers pay for their services. This can be achieved with aggressive pursuit of the metering situation. Right now, we have a metering gap of about three million in Nigeria. That is a huge market for producers of meters all over the world to tap into.”