Stand-off: Power minister refused entry into PHCN HQ

by Isi Esene

The minister of Power, Professor Barth Nnaji got a rude shock yesterday when he was prevented from entering the PHCN corporate headquarters in Maitama, Abuja, by members of the company’s union who were opposed to the take-over of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) by Manitoba Hydro International, a Canadian company.

The minister was in the company of officials of the firm apparently on an inspection tour of the TCN which operates from the PHCN headquarters.

This is coming barely two days after the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) took in technical bids for the privation of PHCN successor generation companies for evaluation.

According to ThisDay Newspapers, the North-Central zonal organising secretary of the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE), Temple Iworima, said the unions are against the imminent takeover of TCN by Manitoba, owing to its alleged disagreement with government over unresolved labour issues.

Iworima further explains the union’s resistance saying, “Agreements on severance packages, pension and gratuity for the workers are still outstanding after 18 months of negotiations. It was agreed upon by both parties through the Hassan Sunmonu-led negotiation panel that there would be no take-over of the PHCN until labour issues are fully resolved.

Iworima claimed the minister’s action was a breach of agreement.

He said: “They were unable to inspect TCN for take-over. This morning, the permanent secretary of the Ministry, Mrs. Awosika, was also here, she too was turned back, and we didn’t let her in.”

The union members insisted that they would not shift grounds until the Federal Government fulfills its obligation as agreed during the long-drawn negotiations between both parties.

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