By Oscarline Onwuemenyi
ABUJA – The Federal Government has given indications that more than 20 times the present PHCN workforce (estimated to be around 38,000) would be required to achieve the targeted 40,000MW by the year 2015.
The Minister of State for Power, Arc. Nuhu Somo Wya made this declaration while on an unscheduled inspection visits to Power stations in the Lagos area.
According to a statement made available to our correspondent in Abuja by the Head, Media and Public Relations in the Ministry, Mr. Greyne Anosike, Wya assured the workers that at the present national output of 4000MW, the nation would need 20 times the present PHCN workforce to meet its 40,000MW by 2015.
He advised the workers to discountenance any rumour linking the reforms in the sector to retrenchment but insisted that those who retired would give way to energetic engineers to boost the tempo of the moment.
He said, “People like you are going to be invaluable in the expansion process. We are not here to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. President Goodluck Jonathan is too godly to frustrate the hopes and aspirations of thousands of families whose livelihood depends on you”.
Wya told the gladdened has called on electricity workers in Nigeria to ensure that their capacity to deliver electricity to the bustling city of Lagos in particular and Nigeria in general is not limited by any consideration whatsoever.
He said, “As the life wire of the country, all electricity infrastructure must be jealously guarded at all times and that the network is kept running to guarantee investors in our power stations.”
He told the Staff and Management of the Aja-Lekki-Alagbon Power Centre that the President had directed him to undertake the visit to ascertain the immediate challenges of the centres and to assure them of Government’s sincerity in dealing with these challenges.
Government, he declared, would remove budgetary constraints that is limiting the system from generating at full capacity.
Wya announced that it was against this background that the President had constituted a committee to work out and negotiate with PHCN workers on what their grievances are, pointing out that the Union ‘s stand that negotiations had to be halted until all monetization arrears are paid is not in the best interest of the workers.
The Minister acknowledged that nobody can address workers problem 100% but that negotiation must commence from somewhere to ensure free flow of services to Nigerians.
At the Akangba Work Centre in Surulere, the Minister commended what he called “the beauty of engaging the Centre’s engineers in the repairs, installation and maintenance of facilities” and that it was the maintenance culture of the centre that has enabled the centre retain its status as the largest power centre in the country.
Minister Wya announced that to give impetus to the Government interest in workers welfare that the Executive Council of the Federation approved the purchase of Toyota coaster buses and Land Rover vehicles to facilitate field operations of electricity workers throughout the Federation.
At the Ikeja West Work Centre, considered to be the biggest in West Africa , the Minister commended the workers who were seen fixing machines and other infrastructure which other Agencies of Government would have contracted out.
He assured hundreds of workers who thronged to see him that President Goodluck Jonathan would not plan evil against the workforce of an establishment considered to be “the life wire of the nation.”
At each point, the Union leaders were unanimous in their request to government. While appealing that reform processes be gradual, they requested government to address the succession problems at PHCN stressing that a good number of efficient and dedicated engineers are retiring without grooming successors. This, they attributed to the embargo on recruitment.