By Ikechukwu Okaforadi with agency report
Delegates attending the national conference in Abuja have lamented over the inability of the Federal Government to pay them their allowance for the past five weeks.
This was coming just as the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, asked the leadership of the conference and the delegates to address the plan by their aides and drivers to stage a protest on Tuesday over unpaid allowance.
Abubakar, in a letter to the leadership of the conference, said he had been informed about the decision of their aides and drivers to stage a protest against non-payment of allowances to them.
Deputy Chairman of the conference, Bolaji Akinyemi, who read the IGP’s letter, said the letter from drivers and aides was sent back to the conference secretariat by the police boss for action, even as he added that even principal officers were yet to be paid.
He therefore urged delegates to call their aides and drivers to order, saying that the conference would not tolerate any protest.
According to him, the welfare of aides and delegates were not captured by government while drawing up the budget for the conference.
“Don’t give us the impressions you can’t control them (aides and drivers). If you cannot, security will control them. That I can assure you”, he warned the delegates.
The drivers and aides, who had complained against non-provision of salaries and allowances to them by the conference, had on many occasions threatened to stage protests.
On such occasions, the conference had said that the personal aides and drivers of the delegates were not to be paid by the conference.
In spite of this, the aides and drivers had continuously agitated for payment by the conference, with many of them saying that their principals were not paying them.
However, a delegate, who is also the National Chairman of the Labour Party, Chief Dan Nwanyanwu, alleged that aides and drivers of principal officers of the conference and other ancillary staff were the one behind the agitation.
He said, “The last time you gave us notice of the intended protest, I did my own investigation. You may also have to talk to your drivers and secretariat staff. They are behind this. They are not aware you have not paid delegates.
“Some empty chairs here is an indication that some are not being paid. Some may have been sent out of their hotels. So, as we are not paid. So too are your aides who are also complaining.”
Another delegate, who is representing market women at the conference, Mrs. Felicia Sani, frowned at the non-payment of allowances to delegates.
She said because of this, she has been forced by the circumstance to accommodate other representatives of market women at the conference.
According to her, “I have accommodated six of our women from the zones. You assembled responsible Nigerians here and you don’t pay them. It is wrong. This is part of the corruption we are facing in this country.
“It is wrong. Tell me where the man keeping the money is I will go and get it. Deputy Chairman, check your house. Your staff is complaining too.”
When the discussion was almost becoming embarrassing, Akinyemi tried to end the debate by informing delegates that even principal officers had not been paid for six weeks.
He said, “May be I also need to point out that we also have not been paid for the same period. Every day, our assistant secretary in charge of finance goes to the office of the Accountant General of the Federation trying to get the releases. Documents have to be signed and we are working on it.
“The funds are available but is not yet released. We are aware that it has been published that funds are already in a private account. Let the media hear it that no money is paid. It is still with government .”