The current epileptic power supply may get worse as the Federal Government and electricity workers are pitted against each other over the change of guard ordered in the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) by the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN).
Apparently suspecting foul play in the minister’s directive that TCN Managing Director, Mr. Abubakar Atiku hands over to a new helmsman, the workers have kicked against the action.
They feared that Fashola’s intervention in the management team of the TCN was prompted by the $364 million World Bank loan that the company is about to access.
Their fear is fuelled by the fact that the new MD is an accountant and a junior of Atiku before he left the company. They asserted that TCN, being a technical-driven entity, the occupant of the office should not be an accountant.
According to the workers, Fashola is bringing in his cronies, whom they described as incompetent, to solely manage the loan.
Consequently, the electricity workers asked the government to reverse its order or face strike. TCN is Nigeria’s sole transmission power.
The workers warned on Wednesday that they would resist the attempt by Fashola and the Permanent Secretary (Power), Louis Edozien, to impose an “unqualified person” on the company.
At the premises of TCN in Abuja, yesterday afternoon, the leadership of the unions ordered their members out of their duty posts, saying that they have written letters to the government opposing the attempt to replace Atiku who has been in the position since August last year when the management contract with Manitoba Hydro ended.
According to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Council Chairman of the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE), Engr. Wisdom Nwachukwu, the government wrote a letter last Friday ordering Atiku to immediately handover to Mr. Usman Gor Mohammed.
Nwachukwu said: “On Friday last week, we were actually in this building when we got a message from our national secretariat that they learnt that the Minister of Power, Babatunde Fashola has informed Atiku, who is our MD here, that somebody is coming to take over his position through the Permanent Secretary and that it is with immediate effect”.
He alleged that Atiku informed the Permanent Secretary that he would not hand over the management of the company because due process was not followed, a position the unions support.
Nwachukwu noted that at least a three-month notice ought to have been given to Atiku to do so.
“How can they say he should handover to an accountant who rose through him and if we are to look at the process of promotion, the highest position the man would attain right now will be Principal Manager and we are talking about him becoming a managing director,” he stated.
Nwachukwu pointed out that the new man “is an accountant by profession and this is a company that is highly technically-driven. The indices of the staff position here should be about 75 percent technical and 25 percent non-technical. So why are you bringing an accountant as head?
“We did our investigation and the information we got is that the World Bank is bringing in some money here for a project and the ministry is bringing in their own person who they can dictate to and not leaving the existing management to do its job,” he said.
Reacting to the development, the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), in a letter to Fashola, pointed out that as an engineering outfit the company must be headed by an engineer which is the best global practice.
In the letter signed by the NSE President, Engr Otis Anyaeji, he said that the society “believes in the capability of the members of staff in the company and therefore wishes to reaffirm her confidence in their ability to turn the company around. The present management structure had understudied Manitoba Hydro International management for the period of their stay and took over with apparent improvement in the operations of the company as reported in the National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) performance report at the last sectorial meeting in Lagos on the 19th of January 2017”.
NSE faulted the new appointment, noting that it learnt that “the reason given for the invitation of the official of the African Development Bank (AfDB) to manage the company is because of the loan ($150 million plus promissory note of $200 million) the bank will give the TCN”.
NSE said that it is wrong for the government to give a lender the power to appoint the chief executive of an entity it is lending to and advised the minister to create a project management unit to administer the fund instead of handing over TCN to a lender.