45, 000 PHCN ex-workers get severance packages
Additional 1,669 validated, ready for payment
OUT of the projected list of 47, 000 former workers of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), about 45,000 were validated and paid their severance packages and their pension, the Federal Government has said.
Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo Wednesday said 2,400 of the workers are yet to be paid, noting that the allegations by some protesters that a significant number of the former workers have not been paid.
Chief of Staff to the Minister of Power, Prof. Chidi Onyia, who represented Nebo, said in Abuja yesterday that an additional 1,669 of the workers had been verified and ready to be paid off. Onyia said the severance entitlements and Pension Funds Administration (PFAs) for the 1,669 workers of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) would be paid soon.
On the protest over the remaining payments, Nebo said: “I don’t understand where that allegation is coming from. If you recall when the privatization process started, the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE) had a projected list of about 47,000 workers. Of that 47,000, over 45,000 were validated and paid both their severance packages and their PFA.”
He went on: “Out of that number, 1,669 has just been validated based on a committee constituted by the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE) with some members of labour and some members of the Ministry, including people from the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN).
“The others are those that even PHCN and the people that are suppose to submit the list; labour has not given us the list. We do not want to validate people that are not in the system and are ghost workers.”
The list of verified workers, he said, would be published next week. On the amount to be paid the verified workers, the Minister noted: “We can’t say how much will be paid, I will have to get the exact amount from BPE. But once a validation is through and the list is submitted to the Office of the Accountant General, funds are released right away. These people are in different levels of their career, so the amount of money is not just going to be one calculated across 1,044, it depends on their group and where they fall into.”
He stressed: “The names of the validated workers will be published next week for them to come and present their information for the validation process to go on and they will get paid.
“Please bear in mind also that N372billion was paid in this process; we have had issues of privatisation but none has been treated with respect like this present administration. The president takes this issue serious and respects the workers and has shown a clear understanding of labour laws.”
On the remaining 800 not verified, he stressed: “The others are those that even PHCN and the people that are suppose to submit the list, labour have not given us the list. BPE has a team that is there and remember that BPE is the one handling this, and the Director General, Benjamin Dikki has been very clear on this over and over to ensure that we are able to validate everyone. We do not want to validate people that are not in the system and are ghost workers.
“We will continue to validate so that money that belong to Nigerians and is being paid is actually accounted for and are paid to the right people. That is why those other list will have to be pending till we get information from the relevant authorities.”
Some retired workers of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) had protested over non -payment of their entitlements and allowances.
Speaking under the umbrella of the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) the workers said they had not been paid allowances for about 16 months adding that government was still owing the death benefits owed families of their late colleagues.
NUEE’s General Secretary, Comrade Joe Ajaero urged the federal government to settle the entitlements and address the issue of power shortage.