June 20, 2012 -
The Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity in Nigeria has inaugurated a 10-man inter-ministerial Biometric Reconciliation Panel to resolve verification issues experienced from the last biometric verification exercise conducted on workers of Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).
The last biometric exercise was conducted by the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), responsible for the privatization of PHCN.
Ms. Bolanie Onagoruwa, Director-General of BPE, in her recent interview with Nigerian News Service, explained that the “privatization of power utilities is unique and different from previous privatization programs in the country (Nigeria) in that it is driven by the need for efficiency and investment rather than optimization of proceeds to the government.”
With emphasis on efficiency and the company being set for privatization, there was an urgency to resolve all labor related issues. The use of biometrics verification in April 2012 was one of the measures instituted to electricity workers of PHCN to settle labor issues. A Negotiating Committee headed by a veteran trade unionist, Comrade Hassan Sunmonu, was charged with the task of identifying and resolving all labor related issues which might impede the PHCN privatization process.
However, that biometrics exercise yielded dismal results. Out of 37,136 permanent staff of PHCN, 1,635 could not be verified and out of 19,848 casual staff, 10,327 could not be verified. This created conflicts between management and workers. Protests were heard against the irregularities, which, according to the President General of SSAEAC, Comrade Bede Opara and the General Secretary of NUEE, Comrade Joe Ajaero, would rob many of their members their benefits if urgent step was not taken to revisit the previous exercise.
This called for a 10-man biometrics reconciliation panel, which was inaugurated by Labor Minister Chief Emeka Wogu, in response to clamor made by electricity workers so as not to impede the privatization process of PHCN. The 10-man panel is tasked to: resolve all outstanding verification issues which arose from the biometric verification exercise; review documentation of PHCN employees with regard to purported claims; recommend approval for any staff that may merit re-verification, and; recommend legal action against identified questionable claim.
The composition of the 10-man panel includes: Dr. Tunji Olaopa, Chairman of the Committee, with members Mohammed S.Abdulfattah, Suleiman Abdul, Mrs. O.O. More, Mr. Pius Apuye, Nick O. Agbo, Malam Babagana, Mr. Adebayo Fagbemi, Comrade A.M. Ubabu and Comrade C.N.Akoh.
The panel has been given two weeks to submit their results.