President Muhammadu Buhari

Striking workers of the National Population Commission (NPC) on Friday called on President Muhammadu Buhari to personally intervene in their industrial dispute to restore peace and normalcy in the commission.

They made the appeal in a statement signed by their labour leaders and issued to newsmen on Friday in Abuja.

The statement was jointly signed by Mrs Rita Agaba, Messrs Aminu Abashiya, Ibrahim Saleh and Ogunyemi Funke as leaders of the four trade unions in NPC.

They said the statement was meant to update the public on developments over the reappointment of Dr Ghaji Bello as the Director-General of the commission.

They dismissed speculations that the dispute had been resolved following the intervention of the Minister of Labour, Dr Chris Ngige.

The workers reaffirmed their earlier position on the no-confidence vote passed on Bello by the unions, management and members of staff of the commission.

They rejected the minister’s directive to the NPC management and appeal to the workers to allow Bello resume duty on Jan. 29.

The unions said that the minister’s action was not consistent with the principles and polices of the present administration on anti-corruption and whistle blowing.

They noted that allegations of financial impropriety leveled against Bello was not referred to the appropriate agencies for investigation despite deluge of information provided.

The labour leaders explained that the update was predicated on the outcome of their meeting with the Ngige on Jan. 25.

They also noted the minister’s attempt to resolve the strike and how he handled the Federal Commissioner representing Lagos State who, like her other counterparts, had assumed the role of Head of Service of the Federation.

They claimed that the commissioners had flagrantly disregarded Civil Service Rules and Procedures such as the strict implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) and financial regulations.

The unionists flayed the “desperate, subtle and coercive efforts to break the ranks of the agitating workers”, which they described as inimical to industrial peace and harmony in NPC.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the congress in a show of solidarity reiterates the issues raised earlier in her first and second meetings where the management and staff not only passed a no-confidence vote on Dr Ghaji Bello and equally unequivocally, rejected his imposition on National Population Commission.

“The appointment of Dr Ghaji Bello brought career jeopardy to serving officers from reaching the pinnacle of their career in a professional MDA such as the commission.

“This have consequently retarded the career progression of the staff who has put in their life in the service and has the requisite professional, technical knowledge and competence to drive the mandate of the commission.

“Congress notes that democracy is all about the rule of law and following precedence that have already been set with the reversal of the appointments of the Director-General of NAFDAC, NHIS executive secretary and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation,

“and as such we ask that the reappointment of Dr Ghaji Bello be reversed for the interest of peace.

“They requested that a core professional be appointed as Director-General rather than the present situation.

“Dr Bello lacks professional and administrative competence as required by NPC Act to run the affairs of the commission which became manifest in his performance in the last four years.

“We have ample information of plans to arrest some members of staff of the commission and flood the office with armed policemen on Monday, 29th January, 2018, in order to facilitate Dr Ghaji’s resumption.

“Congress however request the Hon. Minister to kindly advise Dr Ghaji Bello to stay away from all offices of National Population Commission nationwide in the interest of peace and industrial harmony,” the communique read in part.

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The workers therefore resolved to sustain the protest to drive home their rejection of Bello’s return to the commission.

They also agreed to close all offices of the commission nationwide from Jan. 29, in line with their earlier resolution passed on Jan. 23, until the matter was amicably resolved in their favour.

The management of the commission and Bello are yet to react to the current development.

However, the Chairman of NPC, Chief Eze Duruiheoma, had earlier appealed to the agitated workers to end their work-to-rule industrial action and resume duties.

Duruiheoma assured them that the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and the Minister of Labour were addressing their grievances.