Minister of Power, Bart Nnaji
The Federal Government has offered to provide N85 billion to make up for the shortfall in the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) in-house pension scheme account codenamed “superannuation fund”.
It also denied allegations by Power Holding Company Staff who staged a protest against privatisation of Transmission facilities in the country saying that there were no plans to privatise the company but brought in eight staff from a managing company for the staff to understudy for three years.
According to a statement from Mr. Ogbuagu Anikwe the Special Assistant on Media to Minister of Power, Prof. Barth Nnaji, yesterday in Abuja, about N88 billion will be required to offset the retirement benefits of 50,000 PHCN workforces, but only N3 billion is available in the PHCN pension scheme account; thus, a deficit of N85 billion which the government is offering to makeup and has communicated same to the unions.
He was reacting to ongoing protest by members of National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) against the scheduled assumption of management of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) by Canadian firm, Manitoba Hydro International in a three years management contract it signed with the Federal Government.
Nnaji who condemned the protest by the unionists, stated that allegations such as claims that TCN would be privatised as well as the unions brutalisation by security forces were false, adding that the union is being economical with the truth on the status of affairs in the power sector and indeed PHCN.
He said: It is important to mention here that Manitoba International is coming with only eight expatriate workers. The Nigerian employees of the TCN, including the top management staff, will not leave their current positions but will stay on as deputies and “shadows” to understudy the new managers with a view to improving their technical and managerial skills and subsequently taking over the management of the state-owned enterprise as soon as possible.”
As regards the payment of retirement or severance benefits of PHCN staff, Nnaji stated: “We would like to use this opportunity to inform the Nigerian people that, contrary to the allegation by some trade unionists in the power sector, there are no sufficient funds in the PHCN pension scheme to settle the retirement benefits of the 50,000 PHCN workforces.
Up to July 1, 2004, when the Pension Reform Act (PRA) came into force, the PHCN operated a non-contributory pension scheme. As much as N88 billion is required to pay the retirement entitlements of the 50,000 PHCN staff members as of June 30, 2004, but only N3 billion is available in the PHCN pension scheme account.