The Federal Government on Wednesday said N16bn had been approved for the payment of the entitlements of retirees and pensioners of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria in preparation for the conclusion of the privatisation of the power sector.
This is in addition to the N384bn earlier approved as severance package for employees of the power firm before the company is fully privatised.
Hence, the government will from this week pay a total of N400bn to the workers, retirees and pensioners of the PHCN.
The Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo, has also directed the power distribution companies to resolve all issues surrounding the unfair billing and metering of electricity consumers.
Nebo, according to a statement from the Federal Ministry of Power, further assured that “at the end of the ongoing privatisation, Nigerians will heave a sigh of relief as generator importers will soon be eased out of business.”
The statement added, “The minister has directed the commencement of the payment of severance package to PHCN staff, on which about N384bn is going to be expended with additional N16bn to pay other retirees and pensioners of the company.
“Nebo (also) directed that all issues surrounding metering and unfair billing should be resolved immediately without any Nigerian being short-changed.”
The minister said these while answering questions on a television programme on Wednesday in Abuja.
Nebo said the neglect of the sector was as a result of the wrong notion that classified power as a social welfare service.
He observed that it was only in 1999 when Nigeria returned to democracy that the gross neglect of the sector was addressed.
Citing an instance, the minister said for 17 years, no single engineer was hired in the power sector, stressing that this huge gap in human capacity required to run the sector was being bridged with the ongoing recruitment of young Nigerian engineers.
Nebo said the country was currently generating more than 4,000 megawatts of electricity, adding that before the present administration, the country was producing just over 2,000MW.
“From 2,000MW in 2010 to the current 4,500MW, is this not an achievement?” he asked.
The minister, however, stated that all hands must be on deck to improve power generation as the present capacity of 4,000MW was unacceptable considering the nation’s population and potential.
Nebo further explained that the government was committed to diversifying the energy generation capacity to include renewable sources such as wind, solar, coal, biomass and hydro.
On the previously moribund Rural Electrification Agency, he said the present administration had revived it and made it to be more effective in the provision of electricity off grid to rural dwellers.
He gave an assurance that the revolution in the telecoms sector would be a child’s play when compared with what was about to happen in the power sector, stressing that huge investments were expected from the ongoing privatisation exercise when completed.
Information from Punch was used in this report.