Mass sack imminent, as new owners take over PHCN

The sack of over 20,000 or 37 per cent of the estimated 54,000 workers of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) became imminent at the weekend, as the Federal Government insisted that it would hand over the company to new owners on September 21, 2013.
Director-General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises, PBE, Benjamin Dikki who disclosed this to newsmen at the weekend maintained the only impediment to the hand over is failure of investors to pay on schedule.
Realizing that the new owners may not need so many staff with investment in ultramodern equipment, government, last week began paying severance package to all workers, who would thereafter negotiate fresh contract with the new core investors.
“Labour issues have been resolved and the implementation committee on settlement of the PHCN staff terminal benefits commenced payment of N118 billion to the over 20,000 PHCN staff, at the beginning of this month,” Dikki said.
Meanwhile, investigation by **Daily Independent** showed that many of the staff have begun intensive lobbying of the new owners to either retain their positions or get a new plum job with the new companies.
“That is the normal thing to do if you ask me,” a consultant for one of the new owners who craved anonymity, “because of the nature of this issue,” said, adding that many of the management staff “make calls to me on several occasions to get the true identity of those behind the companies that will take over their distribution companies, and how to reach them.”
The government, Dikki however insisted, would hand over privatised successor PHCN companies to private investors on September 21, 2013, if the investors pay on schedule.
Dikki said: “To purchase this Power Holding Company, over $2 billion will be paid by the bidders (to government coffers), and that is because the investors can see a clear investment horizon.
“They don’t have to go and lobby anybody, all they require is to meet the technical requirement, go to the regulatory authority, apply for licence and they are limited by their own ingenuity and their access to the capital.
“When they pay by September 21, we will hand over the companies to them or anybody who pays earlier and then they begin to operate,” he added.
The BPE boss said the privatisation programme have significantly opened up the Nigerian economy by creating the right atmosphere for greater private sector participation in several key sectors.
He said the telecommunications sector, in particular, stood out in terms of attracting massive foreign investments, which he put at about $40 billion to date.
His words: “The Nigerian economy is becoming more and more liberalised. So, we in the Bureau of Public Entreprise are not surprised. That is what we have been working for.
“That is the benefit of the reform, which the Bureau of Public Enterprises has been spearheading and also in consonance with the transformation agenda of President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.

Daily independent
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