NEMA ‘s liabilities, staff claims hit N3.465b liabilities
*I’m not anti-workers, says DG, insists on verification
About N2.8billion liabilities were inherited by the new management of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) including N665 million suspicious claims from some of its staff members, it was learnt yesterday.
The unverified claims are said to have engendered tension between the management and the workers especially the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN).
The workers are demanding full payment of the N665 million but the management is insisting on the verification of the claims.
The ACSN is also opposed to the redeployment of the Secretary of the Women Commission Member of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Shaibu Afusatu, to Lagos. It demanded the reposting to NEMA headquarters.
It was gathered that the demand for the payment of the unverified claims was behind the threats by NEMA workers to go on strike.
NEMA’s Director-General Mustapha Maihaja, however, denied pursuing an anti-labour agenda.
He said since assumed office, the workers had been receiving their salaries and claims promptly. He also said he had redeployed the president of ASCSN in NEMA back to the headquarters in Abuja.
He confirmed that he inherited about N2.8 billion including N665 million unverified staff claims.
A breakdown of the liabilities is as follows: N82,019,313.90 (2015); N1,212,063,635.77 (2016); and N1,507,087,420.82 (Jan-March 2017).
The inherited staff liabilities are N9,553,400 (2015); N273,592,861.12 (2016) and N382,096,780.
It was also gathered that the unverified N665 million became contentious when it was discovered that a Level 08 officer applied for N14 million as outstanding claims. Another senior staff member demanded the refund of N58 million he claimed to have spent on behalf of NEMA.
A NEMA source said: “While the workers were mounting pressure for payment of claims, NEMA management is insisting on verification of all outstanding claims. The next we received was threat to go on strike action.”
The source added that the TUC (FCT Council) also asked NEMA’s management to “reverse Afusatu’s posting in line with extant labour laws, international conventions and a subsisting agreement.”
But NEMA, in its response, said: “The redeployment of the affected staff was a routine exercise carried out within the statutory responsibility of the management 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 and allows free and legitimate association among its staff and will continue to do so.”
Speaking with journalists, Maihaja said: “I inherited the liabilities and for all intents and purposes, a chief executive ought to verify all claims that are not paid before he resumes. I am doing exactly that.
“I have not owed workers their 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 the outstanding claims which I inherited.