• Wednesday, February 28, 2024
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Wage award delay, withheld salaries worry civil servants

Inflation outpaces Nigeria’s real wages by 100%

The stoppage of the payment of N35,000 wage award promised by President Bola Tinubu and the withholding of salaries of some civil servants has raised worries among the affected workers.

The government has also yet to deploy the promised Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses to cushion transport costs amid rising cost of food and other commodities.

Tinubu had shortly after announcing subsidy removal promised to provide a cheaper means of transportation by unveiling buses that will run on CNG, and give N35,000 wage award to federal government workers.

In July, he told Nigerians that his government had made a provision to invest N100 billion between then and March 2024 to acquire 3,000 units of 20-seater CNG-fuelled buses.

BusinessDay gathered that the wage award was paid only for September.

The Trade Union Congress recently warned of dire consequences for stopping the payment of the N35,000 wage award.

The Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities, on Monday, kicked against the non-payment of the N35,000 wage award.

Mohammed Ibrahim, its national president, in a communique at the end of a two-day meeting in Abuja, insisted that the federal government must fulfill its obligations to pay the wage award.

Read also: NLC fumes as FG slashes wage award for civil servants

He said: “The NEC recalls the approval of the federal government to pay a wage award of N35,000 to workers in its payroll effective from 1st September 2023. The one for the month of September 2023 was paid in the month of November 2023.

“NEC urges the federal government to commence payment of the outstanding arrears of October and November 2023 forthwith.”

The union urged state governments “to take a cue from the federal government to endorse payment of this wage award to their workers in order to ameliorate the harsh effects of the fuel subsidy removal”.

“NEC in session recalls the approval of the government to increase the salaries of university workers by 25 percent and 35 percent. Though this proposal is a far cry from the salary increase demanded by SSANU, we regarded it as an award by the government and therefore expected that the award should have been implemented by now. NEC, therefore, demands the implementation of this wage increase, which had been captured in the budget before the end of 2023, pending the conclusion of the renegotiation with the government on the mutually acceptable salary wage,” it said.

The current verification exercise of workers on the federal government’s Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS) has also worsened the situation for some workers.

The federal government announced last Tuesday that it was withholding the salaries of over 600 civil servants who failed to partake in the verification following discrepancies in the IPPIS.

It said the salaries of civil servants that were initially suspended but have now completed the verification exercise would however be released.

Tinubu had reportedly directed Folasade Yemi-Esan, head of the Civil Service of the Federation (HOCSF), to ensure thorough verification of federal government workers on the IPPIS.

About 59,201 civil servants who participated fully in the verification exercise and whose records are without discrepancies had their names forwarded to the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation for continuous payment of their salaries.

Yemi-Esan had in July told journalists in Abuja that about 3,657 officers were facing investigation by the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) for being absent during the verification audit.

The officers’ salaries were also suspended, but were later given the last opportunity to access the IPPIS verification portal, update their records and present themselves for physical verification.

Read also: FG to pay federal workers N35,000 wage award apart from salaries

The current mechanisms put in place to drive the implementation of the IPPIS were introduced to remove ghost workers from the civil service payroll system.

The head of service who confirmed the widespread rot said the government was also working to address the issue in the non-core ministries, departments, and agencies, adding that about 205,411 officers that are not core civil servants have been registered.

“The next step is that we will go ahead and verify these officers to ensure that all the documents are correct and then move them into the IPPIS for salaries.”

As at July 2023, a total of 69,854 civil servants had been verified under the IPPIS.

At the ended of the verification on October 10, physical verification was held between 16th and 27th October 2023 at the Public Service Institute of Nigeria, Kubwa Expressway, Abuja.

At the end of the entire exercise, Tommy Etim, national president of the Association of Senior Civil Servants, said only 2,772 workers were successfully verified and forwarded for payment. “The names of 5,000 workers who have discrepancies are to be forwarded to their DHR for confirmation.”

He said: “As of today, only those who had earlier completed their verification exercise but were mistakenly delisted have had their salaries restored while 5,000 of civil servants still have discrepancies on their date of first appointment and dates of birth.

“A total of 2,772 have been verified and forwarded to IPPIS for payment because there were no issues. There are six teams working tirelessly to ensure that the exercise is completed on time. It is advisable for public servants to develop the habit of checking the HOS website for regular updates. We have confirmed that the salary for the month of November 2023 is concluded, therefore, those affected will not be able to get their salary for the month of November.”

Read also: FG’s N35,000 wage award to be funded from treasury, IGR- NSIWC

Mohammed Ahmend, director of information in the Office of the Head of Civil Service, told BusinessDay that everyone affected who is a genuine civil servant will be accommodated.

“This is not the first time we are embarking on verification; it is an ongoing thing and those who are genuine civil servants will be verified at the end of the day,” he said.