Electricity Workers' Threaten to Shut Down Power, Nationwide …Demands Sack of TCN MD, Usman Mohammed Over High Handedness, Anti-labour Practices
Barring any urgent intervention from the federal government, workers under the auspices of Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies (SSAEAC) may ground the entire power structure in the country to a halt. The threat follows alleged administrative irregularities and high handedness leveled on the management of the Transmission Company of Nigeria. Recall that TCN emerged from the defunct National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) a consequence of the merger of the Transmission and Operations sectors on April 1, 2004. TCN represents one of the 18 unbundled business units under the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), the company was issued a transmission license on 1st July, 2006. Its licensed activities include: electricity transmission, system operation and electricity trading. The development prompted workers of the organization to stage a picket at the TCN premises on Tuesday, in Abuja, where they disrupted vehicular and commercial activities for several hours. They hinged the exercise on TCN’s Managing Director, Usman Mohammed, who they said should be relieved of his appointment by the government for flouting most of the administrative procedures. According to Umar Abubakar, General Secretary, SSAEAC, the MD was alleged to have single handedly conducted examinations for staff due for promotion without recourse to input from other management staff. He was also alleged to have defaulted in remitting appropriate taxes to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), a development that also led to the sealing of the organization even before the workers staged their protest. Mohammed was said to have also hijacked some funds provided by the World Bank for projects in the power sector, including interference in union activities by trying to polarize the union. He was also alleged to have cleared a large consignment of electrical materials from foreign donors at the ports but failed to deliver same to the warehouse of the organization for proper accountability, before distribution to the relevant sections where they would be used. The protesters said efforts by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige and his counterpart in the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola to intervene in the matter, proved abortive as Mohammed failed to turn up in several meetings arranged by stakeholders. SSAEAC said, “Our grievances stems from the fact that the MD on his own singled out promotion exercise and started to conduct it in his own way through the aid of consultants, that to us is not the ideal process, he was even bragging that he set the questions himself, how can a whole MD in an organization like TCN in this country, organize or write promotion interview or questions, unless he has a motive in his mind. “The motive is that he is not prepared to promote any staff, especially those who are due and most qualified for promotion, he probably wants to pick people who are his boys and who will be loyal to him, that is our suspicion. “We have it on good authority that there were some container load of equipment that was cleared from the ports but was not taken to the store, this again is not the proper thing to do because the procedure ought to be that whenever an organization buys any equipment, it takes such equipment to the warehouse for records purposes so that anytime they want to take out those equipment to work with, they are supposed to write so that it will be on record that those equipment were taken out of store for accountability sake. “His own style of leadership is management of dishing out orders, if he is not around, nothing takes place, he believes he is the only person that can do everything, such things doesn’t happen in an ideal organization, is he the only person in the organization? What then are the functions of the Executive Directors or General Managers? “To cap it all and to prove his incompetence, the FIRS has sealed off our office over tax default, how can a responsible MD claim to be in charge and this is happening”. The protesters who carried placards with inscriptions like, “we say no to tax fraud, “sack UG Mohammed now to guarantee hope for power sector, “no to nepotism” were also seen chanting solidarity songs against the management. Efforts were made to get reactions from the embattled MD, but he failed to pick calls put across to him, including failure to respond to text messages.