The Federal government on Wednesday said it will not renege on the date of the physical handing over of the privatized power companies to their new owners, which is on November 1.
This is even it stated that over 6000 out of the 47,913 staff of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) were yet to be validated and paid their entitlements.
Speaking while briefing journalists at the Presidential Villa after a meeting with major stakeholders of the privatisation process of the power sector, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Power Godknows Igali noted that out of the over 6000 pending cases, 1,478 are those workers of the Enugu Disco with corrupted biometrics data, while 2500 others across the country, also have major cases, yet to be cleared.
“Unfortunately some members in Enugu disco 1478 their biometric capture got corrupted by virus and a new consultant has been moved to Enugu to recapture them.”
“Some of the workers would not be a biometric data corrupted. This is a usual thing that happens when you are dealing with such large numbers and we are bringing them to Abuja at the expense of government for their bio metric data to be recaptured so that they can be paid their entitlement immediately,” he said.
He further noted that an additional 1000 from the number to be cleared have issues with duplications of various nature.
“Names are duplicated, accounts are duplicated. For example there are cases where people have three names and while filling they put only two names, there are also cases where someone’s name is Mohammed and they write Mahmud, so these things have to be captured properly because the amounts are big and we don’t want anybody to be paid somebody else’s’ money,” he said.
He also disclosed that the government has settled all issues relating to the pension scheme as it has paid out N80.2b so far.
Igali added that some banks have been a little bit sloppy and this has been largely responsible for the slow pace of payment adding that government has however given orders to the banks to sped up the process.
“The pension funds have left government, but we appealed to the workers to bear with government to ensure that things are done properly.”
He disclosed that government has put in place, a technical committee working day and night to ensure that the remaining numbers are not only captured but are paid their entitlements.
Igali, while assuring that all workers will be paid their entitlements, said President Jonathan has directed that all workers with genuine cases must be verified and paid
“For such a huge number such delays have occurred and that is why we are accounting six thousand something that their cases are still being dealt with out of the 47,000.
“There are cases of 2500 that are very bad cases but they are being handled, cases of people that don’t have any record or documents to back up that they are PHCN workers but people have identified them that they have been in the system but these are mostly casual workers and their cases are being looked into. They are a lot of casual workers but we brought down the numbers as low as possible to 2,500 and the cases are being addressed.
“Government has set up technical committee working day and night to validate as many people as possible from the reminding number to ensure that all those who are bonafide staff get their entitlements.
“Let me also add that the payment is in two components, the severance benefits which deals with the immediate gratuity and other severance issues and the pensions components. The severance aspect goes directly to the account of the beneficiary and a lot of them have confirmed that they have gotten the alert in their count.
“And those who have not gotten the alert it is because of the issues of banks that have not completed their processes but government has given orders to all banks concern to ensure all workers get the alert on their account.
“For the gratuity payment, it goes to the pension fund custodian, they get the money and after that goes to the pension fund administrators. So the funds have left government and gone to the custodians and administrators of the various beneficiaries.”
He disclosed that 40,093 people with severance components have been paid a total of N214.22 billion while the pension components is N80.290 billion has also been paid.
“For the remaining number once we capture Enugu 1,478 people and we bring in the other people, we will virtually be left with just about 2000 people to clear and I think that will take place in the next one week or so. What is important is that we have received the directive from Mr. President that every Nigerian who has been identified as a bonafide staff of PHCN must be given his total due.”
Speaking on the metering gap, Igali noted that all the stakeholders were concerned, but assured that the new owners will perfect the process, improve on the services as well as make money.
“The meters are going to be free. Nigerians should expect more equity, fairness and improve services,” he said.
He added: “We are at the thresh hold of a new revolution. New jobs will be created. People will recharge their power from their phones. They will engage some of the workers currently working with Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, that are being disengaged”.