By Umar Muhammad Puma
Director General of the National Emergency Management (NEMA), Engr. Mustapha Maihaja has attributed the recent industrial action by staff of the agency on communication gap between management and staff union leaders.
Speaking before the House Committee on Emergency Management and Disaster Preparedness, Maihaja admitted the shortcoming and however, assured the committee that all things were being done to ensure effective implementation of the agreement reached, between the parties last week.
The Rep Jibrin Santumari-led Committee was not happy with the handling of the crisis by NEMA’s management under Maihaja, especially that such a strike was happening for the first time in the over a decade existence of the agency.
The staff union, led by Mr. Sa’ad Bello under the aegis of Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria, (NEMA Unit) had accused the DG, who reportedly assumed office on April 24, of refusal to pay legitimate overtime claims and DTAs to staff members, refusal to carry out annual staff training, and refusal to renew staff life assurance policies.
Also, the union accused the DG of nepotism in the manner in which some staff members were redeployed as well as unauthorized monthly payments to some staff members, “vindictive posting of staff members, especially union leaders”, and “separation of women from their spouses”.
During the committee’s intervention meeting yesterday, some members blamed the DG for allowing the staff’s grievances to linger for so long, leading to the strike. “All the demands were mere demands, and they are legitimate. It shouldn’t take you a whole six months to verify DTAs and other arrears”, Hon. Bashir Babale told the DG.
The union leader, Bello told the committee that there had been an existing understanding between past management and staff, through which the backlog of arrears of benefits were being gradually offset, but same stopped since Maihaja assumed office.
Chairman of the committee, Rep Santumari, earlier in his opening remarks said the meeting was hurriedly convened to allow the committee listens to both parties, especially on why the DG should allow such an embarrassment in an agency like NEMA, as both parties were later allowed to go while implementation of the agreement reached is being monitored.