Salary Slash at NIMC May Pit Staff against Management 

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Staff of the National Identity Management Commission are piqued with their management for single-handedly slicing off a huge chunk of their salaries. Nosa James-Igbinadolor reports 
Trouble appears to be brewing at the National Identity Management Commission over the recent unilateral slash in staff salaries by the management led by Director-General, Engr. Aliyu Aziz. 
THISDAY learnt that thousands of the commission’s employees across the country were jolted to find out that their January 2018 salaries, which were credited into their various accounts on February 2, 2018 had been slashed by as much as 40 per cent without prior notice.
Sources told THISDAY that staff of the commission, which was set up in 2007 to operate the country’s national identity management systems amongst other functions, were neither consulted nor  told that their salaries were going to be reduced. “We just got our alerts and saw our salaries almost down by half,” a staff told THISDAY.
It was only after the uproar from staff across the country that the commission’s director-general hurriedly sent out a memo to his employees urging calm over what he called “The usual decrease in our January salaries”.  He then assured the staff that, “Management will not relent in its efforts towards pursuing an improved remuneration package.”
His assurance of pursuing an improved remuneration package for staff however seems to fly against another memo sent to all staff of the commission on February 5, 2018 by the general manager, operations. In the memo, the general manager assured employees of the commission that, “The approved salary increase by the National Salaries and Wages Commission will be implemented once we are through with the appropriate authorities…” 
THISDAY investigation revealed that the commission had embarked on a massive promotion exercise late last year and staff were expecting that their January salaries would reflect their new positions and approved salary scale. According to a staff, working at the headquarters’ office in Abuja, “I receive N72,000 monthly, I had expected to be paid a little over that to reflect my recent promotion. You can then imagine my shock to see an alert showing N47,000.” 
Another staff, who spoke to THISDAY also expressed anger and bitterness over what they saw as bad corporate and unfair labour relations practice by the executive management of NIMC in not engaging with them and seeking their cooperation before unilaterally undertaking a massive cut in their salaries. They said, it was grossly unfair for their management to “cut our salaries in such proportion and then later asked for our understanding and silence”. They also expressed disappointment over what they termed as “our compromised union leaders who have never fought for us.”
They further decried the way and manner the last promotion exercise was conducted which some termed as fraudulent and overly biased. 
The commission’s director-general seemed to acknowledge the depth of ill-feelings against the outcome of the exercise when he noted in his memo of February 2, 2018 that “the review of staff complaints following the last promotion and placement exercise has been conducted and letters will be issued on or before February 17, 2018.”
In addition, the staff complained about unacceptable and noxious working conditions including using their personal monies to carry out official assignments. Some of the staff with the commission’s offices in two Northern states told THISDAY that “many times, we have to contribute monies amongst ourselves or request for financial assistance from enrolment applicants to buy petrol to power our generators so that we can register enrollees”. They added that the commission did not provide funds for internet in their offices outside Lagos and Abuja, but yet expect staff to electronically send in copies of enrolments and other critical information. “At the end of the day, we have to use our own data to do official work and for all these, we are not compensated. Instead they cut our salaries and continue to owe us our 28 days allowance.”
In their response to these accusations, the management of the commission through its Head, Corporate Communications, Mr. Loveday Chika Ogbonna, strongly denied all the allegations. According to him, “NIMC’s Management did not slash staff salaries. Staff were paid their due salaries as provided in the consolidated public service salary scale (CONPSS)”. THISDAY notes that this explanation contradicts the acknowledgement of salary cuts in the memos released to staff by both the commission’s director-general and its general manager operations.
The commission’s spokesman further asserted that since there was no salary cut, there was no need for the director-general to consult or meet with staff. He added that the director-general had always consulted widely through staff town hall meetings and internal newsletters. 
Ogbonna admitted that towards the end of last year, the commission carried out what he called “proper placement and promotion exercise”, but added that the inability of the commission to pay salaries backing up the promotion exercise was due to the non-passage of the 2018 budget.
Meanwhile, the staff have vowed to resist the salary cuts and push for improved working conditions.