Employees of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) on Tuesday staged a protest at the agency’s headquarters in Abuja over poor conditions of service and “redundancy”.
Justin Uwazuruonye, the Chairman, Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN), NEMA Unit, who led the protest and spoke on behalf of the staff, therefore called on the federal government to investigate their grievances.
“You can see that we are peaceful people; what we are demanding is for NEMA to start to function again.
“In the past one year do you have any annual report? No! We have been redundant.
“Let the government ask Maihaja to produce the annual report (of the agency) for the past one year since he has been here.
“We want the government to come here and investigate our allegations and hear our side of the story.
“Our condition of service is very poor, we come to the office and sit for hours without doing anything; we don’t have tools to work.
“No papers and other writing materials for us to work with. It is killing our morale. These are our problems, beginning with not being able to do our work to failure to pay us what is due to us as workers.
“We’ll stand on them until the Federal Government hears us.
“Even the police know the truth and we have been working with them, they know that NEMA is not working, let them put a call through to our call centre now and see whether the call will go through.
“If there was to be an accident on the road now, there won’t be response from NEMA, because there is no diesel and battery in the cars to be able to move.
“Corruption is not only about stealing money, we have what we call moral corruption.”
The chairman further alleged that although the Muhammad Buhari-led administration was doing its best by providing NEMA with all the necessary support needed for prompt response to emergencies, nothing was being actualised.
Also speaking, Maryam Yau, the agency’s Senior Disaster Risk Reduction Officer, said it was regrettable that Nigeria had lost its position as a country at the forefront of prompt response to disasters in Africa.
She said NEMA had collapsed under its present management as the employees had become unproductive.
“Disaster continues to increase in this country, but people are not being helped.
“The government is doing its best, the government is giving the appropriate funding for us to actually respond to the people, but it is not happening.
“It’s frustrating; our ambulances are there parked beside the road not working; where is the effort of all the previous administrations?
“Nigeria used to set the pace in disaster management in Africa.
“We had been doing well, we even used to go to other countries to train their people on disaster management, but now we can’t do that.
“We need to work; please, we are begging the government to come to our rescue.”
The agency had in a statement signed by its Head of Media and Public Relations, Sani Datti a day to the protest, said there was no justification for the demonstration as most of the demands of the staff had either been addressed or were being addressed.
He said that in September 2017, an agreement was reached between the two parties to the dispute, which included the payment in batches, of Overtime Allowances, DTAs and other claims that had accrued since 2015.
“On the issue of staff promotion, the Department of Human Resources Management has concluded preparations, briefs and other related cases, such as conversion, upgrading, confirmation, etc.
“The Renewal of Group Life Insurance which is at the centre of the present disagreement has been approved after going through rigorous due process.
“However, the commitment of government was invigorated by the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
“A meeting between the NEMA management and the union’s officials was convened where government’s efforts at providing better conditions of service for NEMA staff were discussed.”
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the union went on strike on June 11 in protest against the collapse of the agency’s Emergency Response Ambulance Bays, which had been able to respond to more than 1,000 incidences in 2015 alone.