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Court Orders BEDC, NELM to Pay Ex-PHCN Staff N21.8m

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benin electricity distribution company BEDC

The Nigeria Electricity Liability Management Ltd (NELM) and the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) have been directed to pay the sum of N21.8 million to a former employee of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), Mr Olufemi Bamidele.

The Presiding Judge of the Benin Division of the National Industrial Court, Justice Adunola Adewemimo, in his ruling, said the two organisations must pay the amount within 30 days.

Justice Adewemino said awarded N1.794 million to the former staff of the collapsed national electricity firm as cost of his medical bills in special damages, while the N20 million was awarded as general damages against the defendants.

According to the court, NELM took over the management and settlement of the PHCN, while BEDC took over the distribution of electricity in Ondo State that both sprouted out from the defunct PHCN and have a stake in the matter.

The claimant, Mr Bamidele, was employed as a Contract Staff by the defunct PHCN in 2008 and his appointment was formalised. He averred that on September 10, 2013, in the course of duty, he was injured and the incident left him unconscious and was treated for burns and other complications.

He averred further that some of his colleagues and officers in his cadre, who were not retained after the privatisation of PHCN, were paid off and got an average of N2 million as a result, but received nothing from the management of the company.

He pleaded further that he was never officially laid off at any point in time, but the company refused to absorb him back into its employment after the accident.

He claimed that he was subjected to the worst form of neglect and injustice by the defendants, ranging from non-payment of his medical bills to tactical lay off with his requisite entitlements left unpaid and no compensation for his permanent incapacitation and psychological trauma.

In response, the first defendant, NELM pleaded that the claimant went outside his official duties on the day of the incident as he was not authorised to rectify faults and he neither sought approval nor notify the office before embarking on the job that resulted in his injury.

The agency further added that the claimant did not take into consideration his safety as required of staff on field assignments and failed to take adequate measures that all their legitimate employees were paid off during the privatisation exercise that claimant was a contract staff and his employment was never formalised and not entitled to any of the reliefs sought.

On its part, the second defendant, BEDC, asserted that it did not inherit the liabilities of the defunct PHCN, and added that proper parties were not before the court, and no reasonable cause of action was disclosed against it, emphasising that the court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the suit.

In response, the claimant submitted that a panel was set up after the accident to verify if he had his safety equipment on at the time of the incident, and a report was equally issued confirming same.

Delivering judgment after careful evaluation of the submissions of both counsels, the trial judge held that the argument of the first defendant that the claimant’s appointment was never confirmed and formalised as a legitimate staff of the company at the time of the incident cannot exonerate them and will not preclude the defendants’ liability.

“It is clear that by the nature of the relationship between the claimant and the company, a service relationship exists, the general requirement of law is where there exists a service relationship between the employer and the employee, the former is under a duty to take reasonable care of the safety well-being of the latter in all circumstances of the case, so as to forestall any harm to others or expose him (employee) to unnecessary risk.

“The contention of the defendants’ witnesses that the claimant was issued safety gears which he did not use was not substantiated by credible evidence. The claimant has on the balance of probabilities established before this court that the defendants owed him a duty of care that was not exercised after the injury he sustained,” the judge ruled.

However, the Justice Adewemimo held that claimant did not place anything before the court or adduce any credible evidence on his entitlement to the said sum of N2 million as he did not also call any evidence from his colleagues to prove that they were indeed paid the said amount.

Modupe Gbadeyanka is a fast-rising journalist with Business Post Nigeria. Her passion for journalism is amazing. She is willing to learn more with a view to becoming one of the best pen-pushers in Nigeria. Her role models are the duo of CNN's Richard Quest and Christiane Amanpour.

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Council Approves Board to Manage Power Sector Liabilities

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power sector liabilities

By Adedapo Adesanya

The National Council on Privatisation (NCP) has approved the board composition and proposed governance framework for the sustainable management and payment of post-privatisation power sector liabilities transferred to the Nigerian Electricity Liability Management Company (NELMCO) Board.

In a meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the council also approved the fast-tracking of the work plan for the concession of the Zungeru Hydroelectric Power Plant (ZHPP).

On the board of the NELMCO board are the Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, who is the Chairman; while members will comprise the Minister of Power, Mr Abubakar Aliyu; Director-General, Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Mr Alex Okoh; Director-General, Debt Management Office (DMO), Ms Patience Oniha; Managing Director, NELMCO, Mr Adebayo Fagbemi; and all its Executive Directors.

It was also resolved that two key members from the private sector be included on the board.

Also at the meeting, it was noted that the key objectives of the Zungeru Hydroelectric Power Plant concession include leveraging private sector access to finance and reduce the reliance on government budgetary allocation to fund the China EXIM Bank loan; and leveraging efficiencies and better facility management (maintenance) culture of the private sector for long-term preservation of the asset.

The Council had, in its December 2020 meeting, approved the concession of the ZHPP.

Similarly, the team was briefed on the performance assessment report of the nine Electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOs), which has been forwarded to the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), the sector regulator, for further review and action.

At the meeting, it was noted that a thorough performance assessment revealed that most of the set performance targets were not met by the nine electricity distribution companies.

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Google Organises Residency Programme for Young Non-mainstream Creators

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Google Accelerator Programme

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

Some young non-mainstream creators were recently gathered in Nairobi, Kenya for a two-day residency programme organised by a tech giant, Google.

The bootcamp took place from Tuesday, June 28 to Thursday, June 30, 2022, and helped participants learn how to better connect with their audiences and move the culture forward through platforms like Google Arts & Culture, YouTube and YouTubeShorts.

The program will see the first batch of 25 young Alté creatives from Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Botswana, and South Africa attend the residency and be equipped with entrepreneurial skills on how they can enhance the visibility of their brands.

Google explained that it came up with the idea to upskill and celebrate the young creatives, who are normally not given a chance on mainstream media, which resulted in many of them taking to YouTube and others to tell their stories.

“It’s exciting to see creators that identify as non-mainstream find community on our platform. This comes just a few days after we announced a call for applications for the YouTube Black Voices Fund for 2023 aimed at elevating marginalised voices.

“The aim of the residency is to amplify the impact of the Alté movement in Africa and the world. We also want to showcase how products like YouTube and YouTube Shorts and platforms like Google Arts & Culture can help drive the culture forward,” the Communications and Public Relations Manager for Google West Africa, Taiwo Kola-Ogunlade, said.

Though it started in Nigeria, it has strongly taken root across the continent. Recent Google Search trends from across Africa show an increase in `Alté’ related searches from 2020, with questions like ‘What is alté?’, ‘Who is an alté?’ and ‘How to dress alte?’, being the most searched alté related questions.

Other top searches in Africa on Alté include alte’ music, alte’ songs, alte’ suit designs, top alte’ vibe, alte’ kids, alte’ Nigeria, alte’ in Ghana Music, and alte’ food.

Google has also invited Alté creatives that have global brands such as Tshepo The Jeans Maker to give career talks to the young creative entrepreneurs on how to further build and monetise their brands.

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Reps to Investigate Duplication of Functions Across MDAs

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House of Reps

By Adedapo Adesanya

The House of Representatives has inaugurated an ad-hoc committee to investigate the duplication of functions rife across ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs) of the government.

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, who inaugurated the committee, said that the panel aims to reduce the cost of governance and prevent redundancy.

He said that the government has noticed that there was duplication of functions by the different agencies which has led to reduced productivity.

“An organization’s vision and mission must of necessity be derived from the mandate and functions enunciated by its establishment act or any instrument that establishes it.

“Uncertainty sets in when we have multiple agencies carrying out the same functions, leading to bickering, suspicion, and eventually duplication of efforts and waste of hard-earned government resources and time.

“Governments in the past have put in place measures to ensure effective and efficient service delivery by agencies of government, e.g., SERVICOM, but this could not achieve much without a clearly defined mandate,” Mr Gbajabiamila said.

He stressed that “The House of Representatives is not out to witch-hunt any individual or organization, but we are propelled by our desire to ensure good governance and in the exercise of our legislative oversight powers as enshrined in Sections 88 and 89 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).

“This Committee is expected to come up with solutions to the apparent continuous conflict of functions and avoidable bickering among established Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA’s), resulting in ineffectiveness, inefficiency and redundancy in the government workforce.

“The committee is therefore expected to engage relevant stakeholders and members of the public with a view to resolving the areas of conflict among the MDA’s, which may require amending some laws and/or outright repeal, as the case may be.”

Mr Gbajabiamila urged the MDAs and other critical stakeholders to work with the committee to complete its mandate in accordance with its Terms of Reference.

The Chairman of the team, Mr Victor Mela Danzaria, said that most of the laws establishing government agencies were made during the military regime and are not in tandem with democracy.

He said that subject matter has been a thorn in the flesh of previous governments which led to the setting up of various committees in the past.

“It is important to note however that our task is different from that of the Oransanya Committee. Whereas their major concern was to reduce the cost of governance, ours is to streamline, merge and if need be, scrap some in order to bring about efficiency in the governance,” Mr Danzaria said.

He assured Nigerians that the committee would conduct a detailed investigation into the activities of some of the agencies and come up with a report that would have a far-reaching decision that would strengthen the agencies.

Meanwhile, the Chief Whip who moved the motion that led to the constitution of the ad-hoc committee, Mr Muhammed Mongunu, said that during a series of oversight functions, it was observed that there were various agencies duplicating functions.

“It is out of the totality of our oversight functions over three sessions that generated the motion on the floor of the House and the parliament saw that there was the need to come up with something that would address these challenges,” Mr Monguno said.

He added that the committee needs to establish areas of mergers and synergies so that existing laws can be justified.

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