Ex-workers of privatised agencies get N602bn
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.