•DG insists on claims verification
By Adetutu Folasade-Koyi
Management of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) is in a quandary over threats by the staff to embark on industrial action over alleged refusal to settle N665 million liabilities.
The new management also has to contend with staff over redeployment of a top union member as well as about N2.8 billion liabilities, including the N655 million outstanding claims by some staff .
But, while workers are demanding wholesale payment of the debt, management is insisting on verification of the claims.
The outstanding claims notwithstanding, NEMA’s chapter of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN) is also engaged in a tussle with the management over transfer of Secretary of the Women Commission Member of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Shaibu Afusatu, to Lagos. The union demanded reposting of the female staff to NEMA headquarters.
On his part, NEMA Director-General, Mustapha Maihaja, admitted inheriting about N2.8 billion, including the N665 million unverified staff claims.
A breakdown of NEMA’s liabilities profile inherited by the new DG is as follows: N82,019,313.90(2015); N1,212,063,635.77 (2016) and N1,507,087,420.82 (January to March 2017). Inherited staff liabilities are N9,553,400 (2015); N273,592,861.12 (2016) and N382,096,780.02.
The N665 million became subject of dispute when it was discovered that a Level 08 officer applied for N14million as outstanding claims.
“I inherited liabilities and to all intents and purposes, a chief executive ought to verify all claims which were not paid before he resumed. I am doing exactly that. I have not owed workers salaries since I came on board. Also, I have been paying all the claims of workers of NEMA as and when due, since I resumed in April 2017.
“I am not anti-labour but, I am insisting on due process, to verify outstanding claims which I inherited.”
On Afusatu’s redeployment, Maihaja insisted he has no anti-labour agenda.
“The redeployment of the affected staff was a routine exercise carried out within the statutory responsibility of the management as stipulated in their letters of appointment.
“The action of redeployment of staff does not in any way amount to violation of relevant section of ILO Convention 87. The agency, however, supports and encourages free and legitimate association among its staff and will continue to do so,” said a senior NEMA official who declined to be named.