Govt denies directive to sack 20,000 PHCN workers

ABUJA – The Minister of Power, Professor Chinedu Nebo has denounced a media publication alleging that the Federal government has issued directives for the sacking of 20,000 workers of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria PHCN, ahead of take-over by successful bidders of its assets.

A statement from the Ministry signed by the Special Assistant on Media and Communications to the Minister, Kande Daniels, and made available to our correspondent noted that contrary to the said report, neither the Federal Ministry of Power nor the Bureau for Public Enterprises, BPE, ever issued any directive to Chief Executive Officers of PHCN successor companies to retrench workers before payment of their severance package.

Professor Chinedu NeboThe Minister also described as unfortunate, the media’s allegation of “nocturnal meetings between the Federal Government and all chief executive officers in Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN”, for this purpose, at a time when most of these officials were on an official assignment outside the country.

According to the staement, Prof. Nebo, although saddened, is not discouraged by this allegation, which is an indication of mischief on the part of those who appear to be bent on creating disharmony between government and electricity workers, and attempting to derail the now moving train of the reforms.

He reiterates the Federal Government’s position, explained at a recent media event by the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Ambassador Dr. Godknows Igali that the funds for the payment of the workers’ severance package was ready and that in a matter of weeks, they would be paid as part of the process of the take-over of the companies by private investors.

The Minister emphasised that the nation’s electricity workers are a most valuable asset, whose experience and competencies are indispensable, even in the new dispensation of privatisation.

He noted that in the emerging new scheme of things, the Federal government would ensure that private sector operators adhere strictly to the nation’s labour laws, and treat Nigerian electricity workers with the dignity they deserve.

The Minister recalled the power reform transactions signing summit presided over by President Goodluck Jonathan last week as an eloquent demonstration that the reform process had reached an irreversible point, requiring maximum support from all Nigerians, to succeed.

Meanwhile, Prof. Nebo has appealed to reporters and editors to continue to cooperate with the ministry and its agencies, in reporting issues and developments in the sector fairly, in order to create a socio-political atmosphere favourable for executing the power reform agenda.

The Minister solicited the continued trust of electricity workers across the country, and re-assures them that their interest and welfare will not be compromised.

He called on members of the public, in whose interest the changes are being effected, to support government’s effort to solve the problems of power supply in the country.

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