The disagreement between the Federal Government and workers of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) over the appointment of a new managing director/chief executive officer for the power firm deepened on Monday as the newly appointed CEO, Mr. Usman Mohammed, ordered the immediate suspension of all payments, award of contracts and issuance of local purchase orders by the TCN.
Mohammed’s order was followed by another round of protest by workers of the firm under the aegis of the National Union of Electricity Employees and the Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies, who insisted that the new CEO would not gain entry into the office of the managing director.
On Friday, the Permanent Secretary of the power arm of the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Louis Edozien, announced that the Federal Government had approved the secondment of Mohammed as the interim managing director/chief executive officer of the TCN despite protests by the workers against the move a day earlier.
Mohammed, according to the permanent secretary, had already resumed duty as of the time the announcement was made.
But it was observed that Dr. Abubakar Atiku, the former boss of the transmission company, occupied the office of the MD/CEO on Monday despite the supposed resumption of work by the interim boss.
However, in a memorandum to all executive directors and general managers of the Transmission Service Provider and Independent System Operators of the TCN, which was obtained by our correspondent in Abuja on Monday, with reference number TCN/TCEO/01/C.001/Vol.001/2017 and signed by Mohammed on February 3, 2017, he ordered the temporary suspension of payments, award of contracts and issuance of the LPOs.
He said, “Sequel to my assumption of duty on appointment as the Transitional Chief Executive Officer of the TCN, and in view of effecting controls on our payment systems, repositioning the organisation for greater transparency and improved efficiency, you are hereby directed to suspend all payments in all the TCN related accounts with immediate effect.
“This comprises all payments in respect of capital projects through the GIFMIS (Government Integrated Financial Management Information System) accounts, Remita payment platform via the Treasury Single Account with the Central Bank of Nigeria and payment via the CBN foreign transaction accounts in headquarters, except operational activities, which must have the approval of the TCEO.
“In addition, there shall be no issuance of contract awards, local purchase orders, work orders and letters of intent. The suspension exercise is expected to be lifted within one week from the date of this memo. This is for immediate compliance, please.”
Reacting to the development in a joint statement issued by the Abuja Chapters of NUEE and SSAEAC on behalf of the TCN employees, the unions argued that the National Assembly had advised that Atiku be allowed to continue as the MD/CEO until all the contending issues were resolved.
The unions stated, “But the permanent secretary still stands his ground by pushing for Mohammed as the CEO of the TCN. What does he stand to gain by disrupting the good flow in the power sector?
“The man that the permanent secretary is pushing forward is of the African Development Bank. The AfDB is about granting a loan to the TCN. That is the only credential on the basis for which the TCN is being conceded to the AfDB. Mohammed has since allegedly issued circular stopping all forms of transactions, including payment of any form by the TCN management.
“This is not an approach of a man who came to work and move things forward in the interest of the nation and Nigerian workers. We are, therefore, calling on well-meaning Nigerians to impress it on the government and its cohorts to please stop this ugly push that will slow down the progress already made in the power sector.”
The Special Assistant to the Minister of Power on Media, Hakeem Bello, however, stated that Nigerians should disregard the allegations by the unions as Fashola was aware of the approval of an interim CEO for the TCN.
He also stated that his boss was aware of the invitation by the National Assembly concerning the appointment of Mohammed, who before now, was an employee of the.