From JULIANA TAIWO-OBALONYE, Abuja
The Federal Government has approved the payment of the agreed benefits accruing to the staff of Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), totalling N384 billion.
Similarly, it has commenced moves to sanction any radio station whose presenters were accused of instigating people against polio immunization, which led to the recent killing of seven health workers and three others in Kano.
Briefing state House correspondents at the end of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, the Labour Minister, Emeka Wogu said the President Goodluck Jonathan who presided over the meeting gave the approval.
He said the agreement was reached at the last negotiation meeting between government and the labour unions. Wogu, who briefed journalists alongside his Power Ministry colleague, Professor Chinedu Nebo, expressed happiness that the matter had been resolved, adding that the payment of the agreed sum would commence immediately. “Payment of the agreed sum will commence immediately and that bring to an end, the issue of non-payment of benefits.
So, we enjoin labour unions in the power sector to work closely with the Ministry of Power in the payment of these benefits as agreed. “The process will commence tomorrow and I want to assure them that this bring to an end, the labour issue in the sector,” he said.
Nebo on his part thank the PHCN staff for their commitment and dedication to duty to ensure constant power supply said: “We are very grateful to the staff of PHCN for all they have done to make sure that power is available all over the country.
We do hope that they will continue to serve patriotically to ensure that no hitches is put in place in the realisation of the power sector roadmap. “We want to make sure that Nigerians get uninterrupted power supply and that is exactly what the roadmap for the power sector addresses,” he said.
It would be recalled that few hours to Christmas Day last year, the Federal Government had agreed to pay the workers their entitlements in line with the demands by the organised labour.
The reason for succumbing to the demand of the workers then was to allow the privatisation of the PHCN to take place. The 54,000 registered workers and the 4000 non-registered workers under the aegis of Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Company (SSAEAC) and National Union of Electricity (NUEE) were to be paid off as part of the full privatisation of PHCN’s assets, after months when government had kicked against the demands of the workers.
On the killing of health workers, the Minister of Health, Professor Onyeabuchi Chukwu, who had earlier took his turn to brief the council of the achievements and challenges of his ministry in 2012, said he had already written to his counterpart in the Ministry of Information on the need for the regulatory body of broadcast media to sanction the station.