Aggrieved civil servants yesterday laid siege to the office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, over what they described as failure of the Federal Government to pay their outstanding salaries for two or three months.
Staff of no fewer than 428 Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs, were owed salaries for two to three months, having exhausted their recurrent allocations for the fiscal year.
The workers stormed the office of the Head of Service at about 9a.m. in what was to be a peaceful protest but were prevailed upon to shelve the idea before the arrival of newsmen accredited to cover the office.
One of the workers who participated in the protest, told Vanguard that they were told to give the Federal Government ample time to address all outstanding issues relating to payment of their salaries.
‘They pleaded for more time’
“The truth is that we are not happy with what is going on. This is the first time this is happening for many years and that is why we agree that there is sense in the claim that government is broke.
“But they told us not to cause unnecessary tension and that everything is being sorted out. That is why we dispersed before your (journalists) arrival.
“We have been told to go about our normal schedule but this is a sad development because we are equally hearing that the Federal Government is broke and that they have exhausted our 2020 budget on personnel,” said the protester who pleaded anonymity.
Highly-placed sources confided in Vanguard that monies meant for personnel costs were domiciled in accounts overseen by the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System IPPIS, department in the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, OAGF.
‘We were asked to be patient, avoid newsmen’
Another source from a government department, who declined to disclose her identity, said: “When we came here this morning (yesterday), we were set for a protest but they quickly asked us to be patient.
“We were warned not to allow our photographs to be taken.
You know these little threats about the possibility of one losing his job and all that. This is not time for plenty grammar. All we want is the payment of our salaries, nothing more.”
Ministries’ staff better off
Similarly, another staff of one of the federal agencies, who did want his name in print, said: “The ministries are luckier because they are only being owed the month of October. Some of us in the agencies are really suffering because we are being owed between two and three months salaries.”
Obviously rattled by the development, the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation dismissed insinuations of the Federal Government’s inability to meet its financial commitment to its workforce, saying the delay in the payment of the October salary was not a deliberate act.
Why payment of salaries is delayed The Federal Government has given reasons for the delay in the payment of October, 2020 salary to some civil servants assuring that necessary steps have been taken to resolve the issue this week.
Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Dr. Folasade Yemi-Esan in a statement issued on Monday, explained that the delay is due to the fact that the 2020 budget was passed before conclusion of negotiation on the new Minimum Wage and its consequential adjustment.
She went further to explain that a lump sum was however provided in the 2020 budget for minimum wage and its consequential adjustment. A statement signed by Olawunmi Ogunmosunle, Director of Information, Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation quoted Dr. Yemi-Esan as saying that a committee made up of representatives of the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, the Budget Office and the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation has been set up to determine the shortfalls of Ministries, Extra- Ministerial Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
The shortfalls are to be paid from the lump sum already set aside in the budget for the Minimum wage and its consequential adjustment.
The committee is expected to conclude its work by the end of this week so that salaries can be paid. While appreciating civil servants for their patience, the Head of Service also informed that she is in touch with the Director General, Budget Office, who assured that salaries will be paid by the end of this week.
One of the agencies critically affected by non-salary payment, the Federal Fire Service, had, in two circulars, pleaded with its staff to bear with government, after the workers had expressed frustration and threatened to stay off work.
One of the circulars, dated October 14, 2020, signed by the Director, Finance and Account Services, Agholor Michael, had read: “This is to inform the personnel of the service that the delay in the payment of September 2020 salary was due to insufficient funds in the Federal Fire Service personnel cost head, just like other MDAs. “Consequent upon the above, relevant agencies have been contacted and efforts are in top gear to resolve the issue as soon as possible.”