More trouble looms for power sector over sack of Union President

Posted by News Express | 16 May 2020 | 582 times

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• Engr. Chris Okonkwo

The nation’s power sector was at the weekend embroiled in another crisis over the Federal Government’s termination of the appointment of Engr. Chris Okonkwo, the President- General of Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies (SSEAC), from the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN).

He was TCN’s General Manager, Special Duties, until he was relieved of the position by his employer.

The union is already beating the drum of war with the employer of Okonkwo if it fails to reverse what it calls an unjustifiable termination of the appointment of its president.

Specifically, the union threatened to throw the nation into another round of darkness through the withdrawal of service of all its workers in the employ of power firms in the country.

Stakeholders in the sector are fretting over the likely implications of the latest crisis on electricity supply in the face of the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

Besides, they are also worried that the crisis of confidence between the TCN’s boss and the embattled president- general of the union festered so long and degenerated into the ouster of the latter from the service of the power transmission company.

The letter announcing the SSAEAC President-General’s exit, dated April 24, 2020, the Managing Director/CEO of TCN, U. G. Mohammed, said Okonkwo ought to have left the TUC since two years ago, following the expiration of his six years political appointment in 2018.

According to the letter, “All your entitlements in accordance with the company’s policy will be calculated and paid to you. “The Executive Director of Finance and Administration had by a copy of this letter been advised accordingly.

“You are expected to submit to the Executive Director Human Resources and Corporate Services, any of the company’s property in your possession: vehicles, laptop/computer including your identity card before your exit.” Besides, workers of TCN, through its SSEAEC Branch, said Okonkwo’s ouster would restore industrial peace to TCN.

Its Public Relations Officer, Engr. Amiji Gabriel, said: “We make bold to say that the SSAEAC, National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) in TCN and the entire workforce are justified. Our earlier outcry points to this fact.

“It is indeed abominable for a political appointee of a parastatal to be seen to be a labour leader. Chris Okonkwo came into TCN during the privatisation of PHCN as a political appointee and also became SSAEAC President-General under questionable circumstances despite being a General Manager

“Okonkwo has created serious tension between TCN management and the workforce; between TCN management and the two in-house unions; between TCN management and the Nigeria Police Force, and over three courts suits between TCN management, Power and Labour ministries, to mention but a few.

 “The entire workers in TCN are happy with the development, but chide the management of TCN for harbouring such an appointee for this long, even after the expiration of his contract.

“We hereby urge the management to ensure Okonkwo is made to refund all payments of salaries paid to him from the period of expiration of appointment to serve a deterrent to prevent precedence in future.

“The entire workers wish to appeal that he should not be seen anywhere near TCN in the interest of industrial peace in the system.

“The SSAEAC TCN branch hails the termination of the political appointment of Chris Okonkwo who in all respect is long overdue.

“However, the branch has thanked the management of TCN for belatedly rising to reason to dispense with the services of the General Manager (Special Duties) during his unwarranted services at TCN.

“We are shocked that Okonkwo was not even transferred, but only politically sent to TCN to do a job.”

But the General Secretary of the union, Mohammed Dubagari, said the purported retirement was fraudulent because no Managing Director has such powers and any attempt to the contrary is void and of no effect, especially when he had sought the approval of his superiors to do it but failed.

He said the President General remains in TCN service whether he like it or not. He said Okonkwo, a top-level electrical engineer has many years of service ahead in TCN and has not attained statutory 60 years of age or 35 years of service. (Independent)




Source: News Express

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