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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

HOT PHOTO: Akure PHCN Workers Protest Over FG’s Insincerity

Akure-based workers of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) have shut down their gate to customers in protest. In their peaceful protests, the workers said they wished to express their disappointment at the Federal Government’s failure to pay their entitlements before handing over the power company to a private firm.
SaharaReporters noticed yesterday that several customers who had come to the Akure zonal office to pay their electricity bill were sent back. All business activities in the Akure premises of the PHCN were grounded.
Speaking on behalf of the protesting workers, Clement Daudu, a leader of the Ondo State chapter of the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE), accused the Federal Government of insincerity in its handling of the official handing over of the PHCN to private firm.
Mr. Daudu said that his union had made several pleas to the government to meet its obligations to pay workers’ entitlements before officially handing over the company. He regretted that the pleas fell on the government’s deaf ears.
“The federal government is being insincere,” Mr. Daudu said. “Our gratuity has not been
paid and [President Goodluck] Jonathan handed over PHCN to private investors. This is
unfair. We will not agree with this. This is our country. The Federal Government cannot just wake up and start toying with our future. It’s our collective economy.”
The union leader stated that, with the privatization of the PCHN, many workers were bound to be laid off, adding that the way the process was handled was not in good faith.
Also speaking, the Vice President of the Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies (SSAEAC), Neke Nwanchukwu, vowed that union members would not resume work until their entitlements were paid to them. He urged the private firm to stay clear of PHCN equipment.
“This is a breach of trust, an act that can jeopardize the future of our country. We are not going to resume work until our entitlements are paid. We are warning the investors to steer clear for now, because if they go ahead, they are going to pay dearly for it.”
The protesting workers carried placards with various inscriptions, including “No severance
payment, no take over,” “Government stop toying with our future,” “Workers say no to forceful take over,” “Government, pay our entitlements,” “Investors dare PHCN workers at your own peril!”, “Private investors keep off PHCN installations,” “Government must complete regularization of casual workers.”
Some of the workers described the act of the Federal Government as unfortunate. They also threatened to battle the government until their entitlements are paid.
Some customers told SaharaReporters that they hope the privatization of PHCN would bring about a significant improvement of electric power supply in Nigeria.
SaharaReporters tried to get a reaction from the Akure branch Manager of the PHCN, Charles Eweka, but he did not respond to telephone calls and text messages to his mobile phone.
Source: Sahara Reporters