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Electricity workers threaten nationwide strike over alleged abuse of labour rights

By Collins Olayinka, Abuja 
16 August 2018   |   2:55 am
The epileptic power power supply may become worse as the workers in the sector are threatening to embark on industrial action over abuse of labour rights by the managing director of Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), Usman Mohammed.

Interim Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of TCN, Usman Gur Mohammed

• TCN MD denies wrongdoings 

The epileptic power power supply may become worse as the workers in the sector are threatening to embark on industrial action over abuse of labour rights by the managing director of Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), Usman Mohammed.

The protesting workers under the aegis of Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies (SSAEAC) accused the management of TCN of alleged administrative irregularities and high handedness.

TCN emerged from the defunct National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) a consequence of the merger of the transmission and operations sectors on April 1, 2004.TCN represents one of the 18 unbundled business units under the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), the company was issued a transmission license on 1st July, 2006. Its licensed activities include electricity transmission, system operation and electricity trading.

At a protest in Abuja Tuesday that disrupted vehicular movements, the union urged the Federal Government to relieve Mohammed of his appointment for allegedly flouting administrative procedures.The General Secretary of SSAEAC, Umar Abubakar alleged that managing director single handedly conducted examinations for staff due for promotion without recourse to input from other management staff.

He was also alleged to have defaulted in remitting appropriate taxes to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), a development that also led to the sealing off the organization’ premises before the workers staged their protest. Abubakar further alleged that the TCN managing director has also hijacked some funds provided by the World Bank for projects in the power sector and undue interference in union activities by trying to polarize the workers. 

The union also accused the TCN Chief of clearing a large consignment of electrical materials from foreign donors at the ports but failed to deliver same to the warehouse of the organization for proper accountability, before distribution to the relevant sections that would utilise them.The protesters said efforts by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige and his counterpart in the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola to intervene in the matter, proved abortive as Mohammed failed to turn up at several meetings arranged by stakeholders.

The union explained: “Our grievances stems from the fact that the MD on his own singled out promotion exercise and started to conduct it in his own way through the aid of consultants, that to us is not the ideal process, he was even bragging that he set the questions himself, how can a whole MD in an organization like TCN in this country, organize or write promotion interview or questions, unless he has a motive in his mind.

“The motive is that he is not prepared to promote any staff, especially those who are due and most qualified for promotion, he probably wants to pick people who are his boys and who will be loyal to him, that is our suspicion.

“We have it on good authority that there were some container load of equipment that was cleared from the ports but was not taken to the store, this again is not the proper thing to do because the procedure ought to be that whenever an organization buys any equipment, it takes such equipment to the warehouse for records purposes so that anytime they want to take out those equipment to work with, they are supposed to write so that it will be on record that those equipment were taken out of store for accountability sake.

“His own style of leadership is management of dishing out orders, if he is not around, nothing takes place, he believes he is the only person that can do everything, such things doesn’t happen in an ideal organization, is he the only person in the organization? What then are the functions of the Executive Directors or General Managers?”

But the embattled managing director blame his travails on his refusal to transfer the President General of SSAEAC, Chris Okonkwo, President General, to head the Lagos office of the organisation.His words: “The Chairman is the Union is leading protests against me because TCN refused to transfer him to Lagos.”

He also alleged that Okonkwo did not perform well enough at the interview to head the Lagos office and instead of him reply to a query was issued him recently, gathered aggrieved persons to mobilise protest against TCN management.