Ex-work­ers of pri­va­tised agencies get N602bn

Daily Trust - - BUSINESS - From Mo­hammed Shosanya, La­gos

The sum of N602, 229,832,996.09 bil­lion has been paid by the Federal Govern­ment to the for­mer mem­bers of staff of its pri­va­tised com­pa­nies be­tween 2000 and Fe­bru­ary 2014.

Di­rec­tor-Gen­eral of Bureau of Pub­lic En­ter­prises (BPE) Ben­jamin Dikki, who dis­closed this yes­ter­day dur­ing a two-day ca­pac­ity build­ing work­shop for mem­bers of La­bor Writ­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion of Nigeria(LAWAN) in Ibadan, Oyo State, said over 50 per­cent of this amount was used in set­tling labour li­a­bil­i­ties of the de­funct Power Hold­ing Com­pany of Nigeria.

Dikki, who was rep­re­sented at the oc­ca­sion by the agency’s Head of Comm­ni­ca­tion, Mr Joe Anichebe, said the amount also in­cluded the sum of N32, 693,774,917.18 paid as salary ar­rears and N571, and 544,058,078.91 paid as gra­tu­ity and pen­sion to the work­ers.

Ac­cord­ing to him, over 100,000 staffers in 29 pri­va­tised en­ter­prises were af­fected by the pay­ment.

He said the multi-lay­ered ap­proaches be­ing adopted by his agency sig­ni­fied its se­ri­ous­ness in han­dling labour is­sues, prais­ing labour unions for their dis­play of ma­tu­rity and flex­i­bil­ity in ad­dress­ing the chal­lenges posed by the and pri­va­ti­za­tion ex­er­cise.

On the im­pacts of pri­vati­sa­tion on the na­tion’s econ­omy, he said: “The telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions re­forms have en­sured that tele­phone lines have dra­mat­i­cally in­creased from 450,000 lines to over 16 mil­lion GSM lines. Pen­sion re­forms have also led to the ac­cu­mu­la­tion of over N3 bil­lion in sta­ble de­posits that has greatly en­hanced the abil­ity of banks to lend long term, be­sides en­sur­ing re­tirees can re­ceive their en­ti­tle­ments as at when due. The re­forms of the power sec­tor, fol­low­ing along the same path, will re­sult in mas­sive in­vest­ments in the power sec­tor that will ban­ish dark­ness from Nigeria for­ever.’’

He said it was im­per­a­tive for Nigeria to con­tinue with its re­forms in other crit­i­cal sec­tors of its econ­omy, stress­ing that the trans­for­ma­tion agenda of the Federal Govern­ment was aimed at pro­vid­ing an en­abling en­vi­ron­ment for the pri­vate sec­tor to spear­head eco­nomic growth.

He hinted that re­forms in the trans­port sec­tor will soon en­ter im­ple­men­ta­tion stage af­ter the pas­sage of the roads, rail­ways, in­land wa­ter ways and the port and har­bors bills.

Speak­ing, BPE’s Head of Labour Re­la­tions, Sa­maila Yusuf, said that pri­vati­sa­tion was the panacea to the lin­ger­ing pen­sion cri­sis and the na­tion’s eco­nomic prob­lems.

He, how­ever, said his agency was chal­lenged by the lack of proper and con­sis­tent data from the man­age­ment of the pri­va­tised com­pa­nies re­gard­ing the ser­vice record of the em­ploy­ees, res­o­lu­tion of ne­go­ti­ated con­di­tions of ser­vice, am­bigu­ous ne­go­ti­ated col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing agree­ment, lit­i­ga­tions, as well as un­founded pen­sion schemes in some Federal Govern­ment’s en­ter­prises.

Other chal­lenges, ha said, in­cluded the non avail­abil­ity of funds to set­tle ne­go­ti­ated li­a­bil­i­ties and lack of ac­tu­ar­ial knowl­edge by the lead­er­ship of labour unions, lack of open­ness from both the rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Federal Govern­ment and labour unions and bud­getary con­straint.

In his paper ti­tled: “The Press and Labour in the Era of Pri­va­ti­za­tion,” Pres­i­dent of Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, Com­rade Bob­boi Kaigama, said that his union was not against Federal Govern­ment’s pri­vati­sa­tion pro­gramme that would cre­ate jobs and in­crease eco­nomic prospects for Nige­ri­ans.

Re­cip­i­ents of the David Rock­e­feller Bridg­ing Lead­er­ship Award from left: Gover­nor Si­mao Japene of the state of Para, Brazil; Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s Min­is­ter of Fi­nance; Peggy Du­lany, Chair and Founder of Syn­er­gos, who pre­sented the award and an­other re­cip­i­ent Paul Pol­man, CEO Unilever.

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