By Etuka Sunday
The Federal Government yesterday said it has computed the validation list to settle the severance entitlements and Pension Funds Administration (PFAs) for 1,669 workers of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).
This was disclosed by the Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo in Abuja while reacting to the recent protest by the workers for none payment of their severance packages.
Nebo, who spoke through his Chief of Staff, Prof. Chidi Onyia, said, “I don’t understand where that allegation is coming from; because if you recall, when the privatisation 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 said the number of those to be paid is about 2,400 and “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)”.
He said the names of the validated workers would be published next week, for them to come and present their information for the validation process to go on before they can get paid.
Speaking about the fate of the about 800 other workers yet to be validated, the minister said, “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.”
He noted that list included workers in the Enugu PHCN Distribution company (Disco), whose data crashed during last year’s validation exercise.
The pre-published list, shows that the verification of the 1,669 ex-workers will be done across nine centres including Lagos, Port Harcourt, Kano and Abuja between January 26 and February 6.
The Minister, who did not disclose how would be paid to these workers, said, “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”.
He debunked the notion that the moves to clear the workers were being made in the face of the general elections, saying, “I had said that this list for 1,669 former workers came up from several processes. The demonstration just happened two days back, so we couldn’t have gone to the zonal offices, validated the list and about to publish it in just 48 hours.”
While the government said they were not notified of the protest, which it described as unfortunate, it said it has “a good relationship with labour and that the matter will be addressed, to make sure that all stakeholders actually see reasons based on data.”