The federal government has reaffirmed its decision to fully handover all privatised assets under the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) by November 1 even as the workers threaten total blackout over failure to complete payment of the severance package for 55 percent of the staff.
The Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) Head of Corporate Communications, Mr Chigbo Anichebe, who spoke on telephone yesterday to our reporter said government is set to practically handover the PHCN assets to the new owners having gotten their legal documents since August.
However, staff of the defunct PHCN have threatened to shut down the nation's power system if government fails to complete the severance benefits payment.
A source close to the chairman of the Lagos chapter of the National Union of Electrical Employees (NUEE), Mr. Adeleke Ibrahim, said over 2,000 workers staged a protest at the Eko and Ikeja Distribution Companies (Discos) on Monday in Lagos in which they gave the federal government a four-day ultimatum to complete the payment of their severance benefits.
The workers were said to have locked the gates to the Discos as they lamented the refusal of some banks to give financial backing to the schedule sent to them by the federal government, resulting in the delay of the payment of the benefits to majority of them.
The chairman, Lagos chapter of NUEE, Mr. Adeleke Ibrahim, at the protest said, "The reports reaching the union is that majority of the banks cannot give financial backing to the schedule sent to them by the federal government. This means that the government does not have money."
Ibrahim said if the entitlements were not paid by the end of October, the entire workforce of PHCN in all the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory would embark on an indefinite strike.
Meanwhile, Chigbo in the chat said, about 41, 000 workers had their data captured therefore the less than 6,000 workers yet to be captured are an insignificant number to stop the handover by November 1.
He maintained that government is working at completing the verification for the few workers left to ensure the success of the whole process.
Refuting the claims of the protesting PHCN staff, Chigbo said most of the 6,000 workers yet to scale through the process are those who collected the data information forms but are yet to submit them for proper capturing, as well as those who have minor problems to resolve.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo earlier on Monday stated that government had achieved 90% success in the payment of workers' severance packages and pension.
He said a total of 40,093 workers had already received their pay with an additional 5,000 needing to be revalidated, adding that the intention of government was to ensure that there would be no further delay in the proposed formal physical handover of power assets to private owners.