The Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) Thursday disclosed that it had remitted proceeds from the sale of 14 successor generation and distribution companies of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) to the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF).
Director General of the BPE, Mr. Benjamin Dikki, said in Abuja, yesterday that virtually all the proceeds generated from the sale of the power utilities had been transferred to the OAGF for onward disbursement to PHCN staff for their severance pay.
He spoke just as the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) raised the alarm over an alleged attempt by the federal government to deploy troops to all PHCN facilities to intimidate the workers from fighting the takeover of the facilities by the new investors.
Dikki, who was speaking on the sidelines of the Fourth Nigeria International Power Expo and Conference, said the federal government had demonstrated commitment to paying the entitlements owed to retiring workers of PHCN and as such, incendiary comments from the labour unions were unnecessary.
“Virtually all of it (privatisation proceeds) is going into labour settlement and this has been communicated to labour from day one that the proceeds from the sales were going to be used to settle their entitlements.
“They can verify from our bankers to corroborate this information that BPE has remitted the money to the accountant general’s office and that office is in the process of remitting the monies to the individual RSA accounts.
“I don’t see what is hidden in this process that should cause high blood pressure or this level of apprehension,” Dikki said in response to a question on the transfer of the proceeds.
The BPE had announced recently that of the 14 successor companies scheduled for handover, $2,525,824,534 was realised as proceeds, of which $1,256,000,000 came from the distribution companies while the generation companies raked in $1,269,824,534.
It equally noted that the government had set aside about N384 billion to settle labour liabilities.
The government had also budgeted about N45 billion in the 2013 budget for the settlement of PHCN entitlements.
On the status of the payment process, Dikki said: “Already, all of them have received 25 per cent of their entitlements; if government wasn’t going to pay them, why pay part?"
He said every bonafide PHCN staff would be duly paid their entitlements, adding that the payment process had to be meticulous to avoid unnecessary errors.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo, has asked Nigerians to show appreciation to President Goodluck Jonathan for his efforts in managing the power sector privatisation process.
Nebo, in his remarks at the expo, noted that no Nigerian president had shown so much courage and commitment in taking up a holistic reform of the country’s power sector except Jonathan, adding that the international community, which had initially expressed fear of the success of the process, had now coined it “simultaneous sequentiality.”.
He also disclosed that the president would inaugurate in a few days the 513MW Omotosho National Integrated Power Project (NIPP) plant in Okitipupa, Ondo State.
In a related development, the NUEE yesterday raised the alarm over an alleged attempt by the federal government to deploy troops to all PHCN facilities to stop the workers from preventing the new investors to take over them.
The union said this was part of the government’s plan to physically hand over power facilities to new investors without the conclusion of the payment of terminal benefits to workers as earlier agreed.
General Secretary of the union, Joe Ajaero, in a petition to the Nebo said the workers ‘assertion was predicated on the content of a circular by the BPE made to the ‘New owners of PHCN Successor Companies’ calling for a meeting with the National Security Adviser (NSA) today.
The union warned that the November 1 date slated for physical handover to the new investors would remain a mirage without the conclusive resolution of labour issues in the sector.
In another petition to Nebo, the Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies (SSAEAC) threatened that new investors would not be allowed to take physical possession of PHCN assets until all workers had been paid their terminal benefits.
It further warned that workers would shut down the sector should efforts be made to physically take over the assets without full payment of workers’ benefits.