Ifeanyi Onuba, Abuja
Workers under the aegis of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria on Monday called on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately sack the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, for alleged poor welfare condition of workers in the ministry.
They claimed during a protest held at the headquarters of the industry, trade and investment ministry that the minister had not taken the issue of their welfare seriously since 2015 when he assumed duties.
The ministry’s chapter of the ASCN also alleged that the minister had succeeded in duplicating and wasting resources through the creation of the Nigerian Office of Trade Negotiation based on false advice sent through his memo presented to the Federal Executive Council.
The Chairman, ASCN, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment Unit, Okonkwo Onwuyah, confirmed these while speaking to journalists during the protest by the workers.
He alleged, “Today, the minister has also killed the Trade Department and rendered the commercial and trade officers redundant. We are also demanding that all outstanding payments since 2014 till date be prioritised on first come, first serve basis for payment; and the training and welfare needs of workers must be concluded before the end of December 2018.
“Services of consultants be withdrawn with immediate effect, timely conduct of promotion exercise should be observed, all cases of conversion and upgrading pending in the ministry and with Head of Service and should be worked on to ease off delays.”
Also speaking, the Chairman, Association of Senior Civil Servants, Nigerian Export Processing Zone Authority Unit, Samari Isah, said the body wrote to President Muhammadu Buhari on August 7 to inform him of the irregularities going on in the ministry.
He claimed that the minister was planning to privatise the Calabar and Kano Free Trade Zones, which are under the management of the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority, to a private company –Nigeria Special Economic Zones Company Limited.
This, he added, was a usurpation of the powers of the NEPZA and a violation of the Act establishing the agency.
When contacted, the Strategy and Communications Adviser to the minister, Mr Bisi Daniels, said in a statement that efforts were ongoing to resolve the issues raised by the workers.
The statement read in part, “Differences with unions in the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment on some issues this morning led to picketing at the ministry.
“Efforts are ongoing to resolve the issues amicably. On the reported allegations against the minister, we consider dialogue with the unions as the best approach since they have to do with reforms in the ministry.
“On staff entitlements and welfare, the minister never had any problems with that. Nonetheless, these issues are being handled by management even in the absence of the minister, who is currently in the United States as a member of President Buhari’s team to the United Nations General Assembly.”
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