Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja
For several hours, scores of protesting workers barricaded the headquarters of the Federal Ministry of Finance, preventing Mrs. Kemi Adeosun and other top officials from entering their offices as they protested over unpaid Special Overtime Allowance.
The protesting workers were drawn from the Ministry of Finance, Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation and the Budget Office of the Ministry of Budget and National Planning.
The workers, who stormed the ministry as early as 7a.m. and barricaded the gate of the ministry, demanded for the minister’s sack over what they described as her failure to pay their outstanding N1.2 billion special overtime allowances.
With various inscriptions on placards accusing the minister of alleged insensitivity to their plight, they expressed displeasure over the manner she is managing the affairs of the ministry.
The angry workers called on President Muhammadu Buhari to sack the minister.
It took the intervention and plea of some management staff of the ministry before the workers dispersed to allow the minister and other top officials entry into the premises.
However, in response to the protest, the ministry through its Director of Information, Alhaji Salisu Na’Inna Dambata, said: “The protests have no justifiable grounds.”
In a statement, he said: “The payment of what the protesting staff called a Special Overtime (SOT), was stopped by the last administration in 2014 on the ground that it was not listed in any extant government Circular, Financial Regulations or the Public Service Rules.
“The management wishes to state as follows: The payment of what the protesting staff called a SOT, was stopped by the last administration in 2014 on the ground that it was not listed in any extant government Circular, Financial Regulations or the Public Service Rules;
* The sum of N1.2 billion computed by the staff union for payment could not have been budgeted for in 2016 in the first place, not only because of the paucity of funds, but also the fact that the SOT allowance was not part of the remuneration in the Federal Public Service; and
* The Federal Ministry of Finance, the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation and the Budget Office of the Ministry of Budget and National Planning, do not individually or collectively, owe any of their personnel their salaries.
“In view of the foregone, the management of the Federal Ministry of Finance wishes to categorically state that the protests have no justifiable grounds,” the statement concluded.
Although the protesting workers later dispersed, they vowed to continue the protest until their allowance in question is paid.