THE unbundling of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) and its eventual sale to independent distribution companies across the country had generated furore and intense controversy.
WHILE the pervading fears among electricity consumers who yearned for stable power supply was the success of the power reform programme in order for Nigerians to reap its maximum benefit, the issue of disengagement of the workforce and payment of entitlements remained at the bedrock of the programme.
THE power sector reform which necessitated the unbundling of the PHCN and the quest to lay a new road map for Nigerians to benefit is still a long way off and that it is why a smooth transition and payment of entitlements was a major corner stone for the leap forward to begin.
DURING the Nigerian Power Investors Conference (PlC) in Abuja in February, President Jonathan had announced that a total investment of $900 billion (about N144 trillion) would be needed over a period of 30 years to develop the nation’s energy sector.
ACCORDING to President Jonathan, under the National Infrastructure Master Plan, the country needs a total of $2.9 trillion for infrastructure development efforts in the next 30 years, from around 2014— 2045. The energy sector alone, he estimates would need an infusion of about $900 billion during the period with a bulk percentage expected to come from the private sector.
ALSO the sector needs about $10 billion for capital expenditure for generation and distribution companies in the next few years to enable the nation raise additional 5,000 mw.
AGAINST this background, it is expected that the distribution companies who have fully bought off that share of the market settle down to deliver the gains of privatization to Nigerians.
BY now, the Nigerian OBSERVER notes that the issue of severance payments to disengaged workers should have been done with, given the payment of N380 billion to disengaged PHCN workers.
IT is imperative that the power reform programme should be made a success by the labour union in the sector, the investors who have put in their money and the generality of Nigerians who yearn for regular power supply.
AVAILABLE facts indicate that labour in the sector had earlier collected N8 billion
from the Federal Government as a condition for allowing last year’s disengagement of PHCN workers in order to assist the new successor companies gain a strong hold.
SOME disengaged staff from available record, collected as much as N100 million and those in the junior category going home with about N6 million each.
IT is therefore significant that having been paid off, the new investors should be allowed to hold the reins of control and be free to reabsolve competent ones while those not so lucky could find jobs elsewhere.
THE Nigerian OBSERVER remarks that electricity consumers demand the best of services from the new investors and should not be goaded into reappointing non productive workers who would be clogs in the way of efficient delivery of services.
IPSOFACTO, it appears that stakeholders are at the mercy of labour in the sector if the investors are not given the free hand to right size and inject new blood into the sector as the current national goal is for an efficient and reliable power sector to run a burgeoning economy.
ON this ground, we enjoin the electricity union to collaborate as they have always done with the new investors in order to improve the yearnings and aspirations of electricity consumers to shore up the power supply situation for the good of all Nigerians.