Protesting staff disrupt Labaran Maku’s handover, accuse him of embezzling funds

The handing over ceremony by the former Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, was on Monday disrupted by angry staff who protested non-payment of their allowances.

The protesters also accused the minister and other top officials of mismanaging SURE-P funds meant for the ministry.

The workers under the aegis of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria, Federal Ministry of Information chapter, blocked the gates to the Radio House for hours and prevented people from entering or coming out of the building.

The infuriated staff chanted solidarity songs and carried placards with inscriptions such as: “Is SURE-P money released for the pockets of a set of people?”, “Is there no budget released for the Ministry for Information for 2014?”

Other placards read, “Enough is Enough: Management sensitivity to staff welfare is zero,” “Perm Sec. Must Go,” “Non Payment of Repatriation allowance.”

Speaking to journalists, the Chairman of the association, Adam Ogwola, said the ministry’s management has been insensitive to staff welfare.

Mr. Ogwola pointed out that staff of the ministry have not been paid their repatriation allowance, noting that with Mr. Maku’s resignation, it might not be possible to recover the funds.

The association also accused Mr. Maku of sharing a part of the SURE-P funds with top management of the ministry without recourse to staff.

Continuing, Mr. Ogwola said staff welfare had been at the lowest ebb since Mr. Maku became minister, adding that under him, the ministry could not pay statutory allowances to staff.

He questioned the budget released for the ministry under the 2014 budget and called for the immediate removal of the Permanent Secretary, Folasade Yemi-Esan.

Shortly after the protest, PREMIUM TIMES learnt that the former minister said he was willing to meet with 10 representatives each from Radio Nigeria, Voice of Nigeria, VON, Ministry of Information and the Nigerian Television Authority, NTA, over dinner to resolve the issues at stake.

Mr. Maku’s spokesperson, Joseph Mutuah, told PREMIUM TIMES, “There is a dialogue and everything is being resolved.”

The former minister had last Wednesday resigned his appointment to pursue his governorship ambition in Nasarawa State.

Other ministers who resigned included, Samuel Ortom of the Ministry of Trade and Investment; Nyesom Wike of the Ministry of Education and Musiliu Obanikoro of the Ministry of Defence.

The Ministers of Labour, Emeka Wogu; Health, Onyebuchi Chukwu and Minister of State for Niger Delta, Dairus Ishaku, also left their posts to run for elective offices.

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