Protesting workers in the Ministry of Education, led by the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN) on Tuesday morning accosted the Supervising Minister of Education, Nyesom Wike, who also engaged the striking workers in a shouting match, at the Federal Secretariat, Abuja over their unpaid promotion arrears.
The workers, led by the Secretary, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), ASCSN, Comrade Isaac Ojemhenke, called for the sack of the minister and immediate redeployment of the Permanent Secretary in ministry, Mr. MacJohn Nwaobiala, for fraudulently diverting the N825 million meant for the payment of their promotion arrears between 2011 and 2010 which had been released to them since December 2012.
The protesters, who stopped the minister as soon as he alighted from his vehicle to enter his office at around 8.15, carrying placards with various inscriptions and singing solidarity songs, said they were mostly enraged because both the minister and the permanent have been telling lies that the money was not released by the Federal Government.
The workers, who already commenced a four-day warning strike yesterday, demanded the whereabouts of a total sum of N825 million, already released in two instalments by the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation to the ministry for payment of the workers' arrears since December 2012.
They accused the Minister of being incompetent and telling lies all the while to his face, saying that the ministry in their various meeting with the union had lied repeatedly that the money had not been released to them until they (union) got the confirmation that the money had been released since 2012.
Comrade Ojemhenke, who engaged Barrister Wike in serious altercations and arguments said: "It is pertinent to state here that the ultimatum given to the ministry has now expired and nothing concrete was done to implement the agreement even though we have been able to confirm the release of about N825 million by the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation to the Ministry of Education to pay outstanding promotion arrears to members of staff in the ministry. N298, 297,913 out of this amount was actually released in December, 2011 representing promotion arrears for 2011 while N527, 643, 440 was released for 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 promotion arrears."
He pointed out that when the unions got the details of the release of the money, it issued a strike notice and gave ultimatum to the minister to pay the money, adding that the involvement of the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Wogu, who met with both parties failed to force the minister to pay the money, despite a clear agreement signed by him to pay it.
Comrade Ojemhenke said: "In view of the foregoing, including the fact that nothing concrete has happened at the close of work on Monday, 25 November, 2013, we are by this letter notifying the Minister of Education of our resolve to commence four days warning strike with effect from Tuesday, 26 November, 2013 in the Federal Ministry of Education including the headquarters of the ministry, the inspectorate departments and the 104 Federal Unity Colleges to press home our demands."