James Emejo in Abuja
Business activities were on Monday paralysed at the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) by the staff of the Commission over allegations of corruption and lack of capacity building for staff among other concerns raised.
The workers under the aegis of Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service Technical and Recreational Service Employees (AUPCTRE) asked President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene in order to curb the excesses of the executive management.
They threatened that the strike could last for one week if no meaningful action was taken to address their grievances.
AUPCTRE Chairman, NAICOM chapter, Comrade Ibrahim Abdulateef claimed their had been gross mismanagement of funds by the executive management and lack of due process in staff recruitment.
The protesters carried several placards, some of which had inscriptions such as” Corruption in NAICOM’, N9m- NAICOM executive management bribe politicians; George Onakhena spent $70,000 on medical fitness’, Mismanagement in NAICOIM’, Nepotism, Favouritism in NAICOM’, Minister of Finance confirmed undergraduate as Director (Inspectorate) in NAICOM.”
Abdulateef further alleged that the Commission lavished money on politicians at the detriment of staff, who were over due for training.
It was gathered that following a collective agreement between the management and the union in December 2015, the management had agreed to release the “2016 training plan/schedule so as to enable staff know through their respective heads of department or the approved commission’s information media when they are to embark on their training in order to them prepare ahead.”
“We also observed that the Deputy Commissioner (finance & admin), Mr George Onakhena has been working for the Commission and receiving remuneration without evidence of renewal of his appointment by Mr. President,” the union chairman said.
Onakhena’s original tenure was expected to terminated in 2015, THISDAY gathered.
He said workers were particularly displeased over NAICOM’s non-adherence to government circulars and financial regulations, lack of transparency in staff recruitment and promotions, non-provision of working tools, failure to conduct 2015 promotion exams, and refusal to release 2014 promotion letters.
He said:”This is despite several calls by the finance Directorate and audit unit for the DC (F&A) to produce the management with the relevant letter on his renewal of tenure.”
According to him, “Mr. Gbanga Jaiyesimi and Aribike Abiodun who sat for the 2014 promotion examination have not been issued their letter of promotion, the union enquired and was told that they had no professional qualification and that a committee was being set up to look into the matter.”
Furthermore, he said: “On non-adherence to government circulars and financial regulations, the Commission had consistently been violating government circulars such as the eight year tenure for directors and permanent secretaries and regulations on authorisations and payment. “
“The clear objective on eight years tenure for directors and permanent secretaries is to give room for effective succession plan and create continuous vacancies within the system.”
“The Commission with disregard to due process employed and confirmed the appointment of Mr. Barineka Thompson as Director (Inspectorate) and Mrs. Folahan Biyere as Assistant director (human resources). The Minister of Finance was not correctly briefed about the profile of the two persons before she appended her signature for the appointments,” he added.
Also speaking at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja, venue of the protest, the Federal Capital Territory Chapter of the union, Comrade Benjamin Anthony, called on the NAICOM management to redress their concerns.
He said: “We are going to bring them down because we will not tolerate this thing in this Nation. You cannot carry our money to go and bribe the legislature, we won’t accept that; you cannot confirm and make an NCE holder a director when those who went to university to arm themselves with a first and second degree are in the commission but were placed under the NCE holder.”
He added: “If the demands of the workers of this Commission are not met, we will come and stay outside for one week and see how the work will go on. Nigeria belongs to all of us; no single person should act like he owns the entire country and we must stand to fight against that.”
However, THISDAY’s efforts to get management respond to the staff allegations failed as telephone calls to its spokesman were not answered.