Daily Trust (Abuja)

10 April 2012

Nigeria: Minister Blames Electricity Union for PHCN Sack

The Minister of Power Professor Barth Nnaji has said that the Secretary General of the National Union of Electricity Employees Comrade Joe Ajaero was partly to blame for the recent sack of three top officers at the Power Holding Company of Nigeria.

The minister said it is ironic that "the rabble-rousing antics of Joe Ajaero and his cohorts in NUEE was one of the issues that worked against the person that Ajaero is today shedding crocodile tears over his retirement."

He said the union ceaselessly dragged the market operator, Engineer Uzoma Achinaya, who was retired by the Federal Government last week to various fora, complaining that he was discriminating against the distribution companies by releasing salaries that failed to harmonise the 50 percent salary increase that the unions extracted from government as one of the conditions to allow privatisation to go on.

A statement issued by the minister's spokesman, Mr. Ogbuagu Anikwe said: "The union's incessant complaints about discriminatory payment of the 50 percent salary increase ultimately led to the officer's poor management rating."

Engineer Akinwumi Bada was retired as the Chief Executive Officer of the Transmission Company of Nigeria alongside the market operator Engineer Uzoma Achinaya and the executive director, human resources of the PHCN Mr. Olushoga Muyiwa of their post last week by the Federal Government.

This is coming as the electricity union took a swipe at the minister over the sack, accusing him of lying about his intentions in the ongoing power reforms.

As for Engineer Bada, the minister said the two successive explosions which led to system collapse that plunged the nation into darkness on March 23 and 26 "exposes a lack of attention to detail for which someone in charge ought to be called to account."

He said the ex-HR Director was found to be engaging in PHCN staff abuses including extortion, embezzlement and corruption.

The statement said, "What is disheartening is that it was also not beyond this officer to keep on the payroll for 18 months, someone who was supposed to have retired - while senior staff of PHCN lamented their stagnation at one grade level for years because of "no vacancy".

The NUEE President Comrade Mansur Musa had reacted to the sack by insisting that it was the minister that ought to resign from his job, accusing him of losing grip of the power reforms.

He had said: "'The minister's sack of the officials of the PHCN and TCN cannot solve power problem in Nigeria. He should leave the Power Holding Company of Nigeria family alone. His interest is conflicting with that of Nigerians because he has a power company that is not working."

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