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FG begins probe of PHCN workers' union

14 August 2012, 09:30

Abuja -  The Federal Government has commenced probe into alleged fraudulent conduct of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) workers’ union over non-remittance of  pension contributions since 2006.

The Minister of Power, Prof. Barth Nnaji, made this known in Abuja on Monday after he presented report of the ministry's budget performance to President Goodluck Jonathan at the State House.

The presentation by Nnaji was in fulfillment of the President's directive of ensuring transparency and effective implementation of the 2012 budget.

Nnaji said that apart from the alleged fraud, the leadership of the union had been engaged in dissemination wrong information to their members to incite the workers against government.

He said the ploy by the union leadership was to blackmail and coerce the Federal Government into exempting them from complying with the national pension laws.

``There are lots of distortions out there. The workers are not getting the right information. It is unfortunate that they are not getting the proper information.

``But I can promise you that this week, we are going to release many information pertaining to the main issue which the union is quarrelling about with government,’’ he said.

He dismissed the information being circulated by the leadership of the union that the severance pay of the workers would be pegged at N85, 000.

``Most of the people who are junior officers, some of them with WAEC qualification, are going to go home with N8 million.

``We just do not want to publish the real payment sheet. Somebody who is in the position of an assistant general manager can go home with N28 million.

``The highest officer can go home with N38 million. So, anybody who is telling them of N85, 000 has a different mission.’’

On the 2012 budget implementation, Nnaji put the budget performance at 52.9 per cent.

He explained that N75.5 billion was proposed for capital projects expenditure but the National Assembly raised it to N78 billion to accommodate the members' constituency projects.

Nnaji said that N21.5 billion had been released, while N11.4 billion out of it had been utilised, which translated to 52.9 per cent.

The minister said that a target of 18 months had been set to complete the metering of electricity consumers in the country, in conjunction with the incoming private investors.

He noted that the process was vital to the entire privatisation of the power sector.

He assured that the improved electricity supply being experienced across the country would be sustained even after the rainy season.

Nnaji added that the non-hydro power plants were getting more gas to run, following the success of the emergency gas supply intervention initiative of both ministries of Power and that of Petroleum Resources.

He said that new power plants, including those under the National Independent Power Project (NIPP) scheme in Sapele, Olorunsogo and Alaoji would be completed and inaugurated later in the year.

The 2013 budget, he added, would see to the completion of studies on setting up coal-powered plants in Kogi and Enugu states, as well as hydro-power plants in Mambilla and Zungeru.

On the 2013 plan, the minister said government wanted to have holistic implementation of the provision of the Electricity Power Reform Act of 2005 and then prioritise completion of ongoing projects.

``This is very critical for the Transmission Company of Nigeria.

``We have 156 projects that are ongoing and the amount required to complete these projects will be included in the budget.

``We will simply concentrate on prioritising them so that we can complete the projects.’’

Nnaji said there would be increase in the funding of Transmission Company of Nigeria, while the generation and distribution companies would be funded through the private sector.



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