The attention of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) has been drawn to reports of a resolution by the board of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to pay the sum of N2.7bn to just seven of its members whose five-year tenure expires on 22nd of December, 2015.
We consider the report as carried in a national daily one of the most expensive jokes in recent times, reminiscent only of the best offerings of the most talented stand-up comedians.
The sum of N400 million is said to be projected for Chairman of the Commission and N380 million for other members of the board. Happening at a time when both the federal and state governments are crying themselves hoarse over their financial challenges, this can best be described as the peak of insensitivity and cruelty. How and why on earth should seven government employees expect to be paid salaries upfront for two years after leaving office during which they would not be eligible to work in the power sector? Worse still is the fact that the colossal sum of money, curiously termed “severance and gratuity,” includes the cost of their “official” cars, phone calls, electricity, rebate allowances, etc. for those port-service years.
To start with, how much does an average retiring civil servant who has served the country for good 35 years get as severance benefits and gratuity? How justifiable is it for board members of a commission that tactfully midwived the ripping-off of Nigerians be paid such bogus and mindboggling sum of money for mere five-year “service” to their fatherland? Why must the people at the lower rung of the ladder always be made to subsidize the greedy and insatiable appetites of the privileged few?
We hear that the NERC board members premise their claim to their proposed self-aggrandisement on the argument that their predecessors also received such largesse. If that be true, why so? Why should people of authority in these climes prefer such obnoxious conduct instead of emulating laudable, commendable, goodly and godly virtues? Furthermore, does the recent slump in price of oil in the international market from between 80 and 90 dollars per barrel to between 45 and 50 dollars not suggest the need for more frugal management of our national wealth? What rationale do these board members who championed crazy policies and bills to validate hike in electricity tariff have for their nauseating craving for such unholy windfall?
To perfect the satanic ploy, we understand, money for that purpose has already been warehoused with a pension fund administrator who awaits instructions to promptly disburse same to the conspirators. The Congress calls on the federal government to stop all of such payments. We insist on it. To this end, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) are hereby put on notice to promptly investigate and nip the ungodly move in the bud.