Jonathan Defies PHCN Workers, Hands Over Company To New Owners

Presidential Group Photograph with the new owners of PHCN successor companies
Presidential Group Photograph with the new owners of PHCN successor companies

President Gooduck Jonathan, yesterday, formally handed over the unbundled Power Holdings Company of Nigeria, PHCN, to private organisations that bought it, with a pledge that they would take over the companies without any liabilities.

The president who personally gave out the licenses and share certificates to the investors at the Aso Rock Villa told the new owners that liabilities of PHCN had been pooled together to be managed by Nigerian Electricity Liability Company, NELMCO.

“Arrangements are also on-going to ensure that NELMCO is adequately funded, to assume liabilities associated with the privatisation of the PHCN successor companies, as well as other related liabilities. Various options are being explored for funding the TCN, so that it is able to implement projects that are key to stabilising and expanding the transmission grid,” Jonathan said.

Five generating companies and 10 distribution companies received share certificates from President Goodluck Jonathan who also promised that the physical hand over of the assets would be undertaken at the end of this month.

According to the president, the successful hand-over of the companies underscored the transparent manner the process was conducted as acknowledged by both local and foreign investors.

He added: “Going forward, this administration is committed to providing all elements are necessary for our private sector partners to succeed in providing Nigerians with uninterrupted power supply. To start with, the Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading Company, NBET, the off-taker, has been provided with a capitalisation of over $750 million, positioning it to carry out its mandate without financial constraints.”

President Jonathan promised Nigerians that “ things can only get better, from this point onwards”, as he assured PHCN workers they will be paid their full severance packages

“Carefully worked out measures are also being taken to address all other issues, particularly the resolution of labour-related issues. In partnership with the labour unions, we have been able to come up with an outcome that is beneficial for all stakeholders. As earlier pointed out by the Minister of Power, Professor Chinedu Nebo, the payment of all labour related benefits commenced in August this year, and is almost concluded as a condition precedent to today’s event.

“It is important to say to our labour partners, who we know to be patriotic Nigerians that they should not nurse a feeling of displacement, but dwell on the tremendous possibilities partnering with the government through the reform process and urge them to continue in this spirit for the greater good of all Nigerians,” Jonathan.

His words however hold no water with workers of the PHCN as all business units and cash offices nationwide were shut down yesterday by aggrieved workers protesting Federal Government hand over of share certificate and licenses to 15 new owners of PHCN assets without payment of workers’ terminal benefits.

The workers have threatened to down tools and shut down the power sector from tomorrow (Wednesday).

They vowed that the new investors would not practically take over assets until their benefits and other labour issues were fully settled

“All we are asking is for the Federal Government to do the needful. Pay us and we are ready to go.”

It was also gathered that activities at the three hydro electricity dams in Shiroro, Kainji and Jebba all in Niger State were grounded as staff were turned back from entering their various offices with all the gates leading to the premises locked.