NIMR Union threatens showdown over non-payment of salary arrears

By Kehinde Lola
InfoTrust reliably gathered that the last may not have been heard of the of the 3-day warning strike held from Monday August 17 to Wednesday August 19, 2015 at the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), Yaba, Lagos, by the Institute’s branch of Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU).
The protest, according to our source was against the high level of corruption, repressive and misappropriation of funds of NIMR by the Director General, Prof. Innocent Ujah. The workers alleged that the 9-month arrears of the 12-month salary arrears for 2013 shortfall paid by government for disbursement to them was hijacked and diverted for other purposes by the Institute’s Director General.
“Of the 12-month salary arrears paid by government, only arrears for 3 months were paid to the workers in November 2013 with an outstanding 9-month salary arrears left unaccounted for”, said the source.
“We are aware that the Federal Government has actually released the outstanding amount but the money due for the workers has been misappropriated by the Director General”, a member of the Union said.
“Similarly, many members of staff of NIMR are owed promotion arrears for 2012 and 2013 promotion exercises they participated in. These categories of staff are owed up to 18 months promotion arrears” another Union member alleged.
Prof. Ujah was reported to have signed an agreement with NASU on August 25, 2015 agreeing to pay the workers their entitlements that include 9-month arrears of the 12-month salary arrears for 2013 shortfall and 2012 and 2013 promotion arrears, spreading it over a period of 3 months starting from September to November 2015 failed to fulfill his part of the agreement with the workers at the end of September 2015.
He signed the agreement with the workers’ Union to avert the indefinite strike action NASU threatened to embark on if they are not paid their entitlements after the warning strike as sources disclosed that Prof. Ujah’s body language shows his reluctance to pay the workers as agreed.
The indefinite strike action by the workers is now imminent given the reluctance of Prof. Ujah in paying the workers their salary and promotion arrears as contained in agreement he signed with NASU alongside his Director of Administration, Alhaji A.S. Yunusazazzau and Director of Finance and Accounts, Mr. S.R. Olagundoye.
Our source in a chat with InfoTrust disclosed that, “In September 2015, it can be remembered that there was a directive by President Muhammadu Buhari contained in a circular reference number HCSF/428/S.1/128 dated September 14 2015 issued by the Presidency through the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (OHCSF) that all ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) within seven days, compile the names of all public service employees (serving or retired) being owed arrears of salaries and allowances, and be ready to pay them without further delay.
However, NIMR staff may not benefit from the financial bailout under the recent directive because the Federal Government has actually released the outstanding amount the NIMR workers are agitating for since 2013 which is one of the issue causing disharmony between the Union and the management.
In another development, the Director General of the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), Prof. Innocent Ujah, and the Director of Administration, Alhaji A.S. Yunusazazzau failed to appear at the Lagos Office of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) on October 6 2015 in connection with an investigation on allegations of corruption and misappropriation of public funds.
Prof. Ujah and Alhaji Yunusazazzau are reported to have travelled on official assignment and for Hajj pilgrimage respectively. According to information, the Director of Administration, Alhaji Yunusazazzau has not reported at the ICPC since the investigation started. InfoTrust reliably gathered that those who visited the ICPC office from NIMR includes the Director of Finance and Accounts, Mr. Olagundoye, the staff of the Institute’s General Store and contractors to NIMR.