Workers, Management of NTDC at War

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Sally Mbanefo, NTDC, DG

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Workers of the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation are on indefinite strike over some incentives which the management has been denying them

By Fidelia Salami  |  Mar. 2, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT  |

MEMBERS of the Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees AUPCTRE, FCT Council, are at loggerheads with the Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation, NTDC. On Monday, February 16, members of staff of the Corporation went on an indefinite strike over the non-implementation of agreement signed by the management headed by Sally Mbanefo, director-general. The NTDC alleged that the management breached a 13-point agreement it had with the management on November 19, 2014, and signed December 1, 2014.

In a five-page statement, AUPCTRE, an affiliate of the Nigeria Labour Congress, alleged among others that since the commencement of the Mbanefo-led administration, claimed that the federal government stopped funding the NTDC, whereas March to July 2014, the federal government gave the Corporation N52,014,821 for capital project development. “Yet no capital project had been embarked upon,” the staff alleged.

According to the union leaders, from February to September, 2014, the federal government released overhead budget to the tune of N342,654,807 for training and other office logistics which was not implemented.

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As if that was not serious enough, the union alleged that the Mbanefo administration, which is almost two years, had no clearly defined vision and direction. It also accused the director general of always cancelling both local and international fairs and exhibitions without weighing the implications on the image of Nigeria and the sector at large.

Remi Adediji, secretary, AUPCTRE, FCT council, told Realnews that there had been a lot of grievances on ground since May 2014 to date. The grievances bother on workers welfare, payment of salary and allowances, including training of staff and the inability of the director general to deliver on her mandate. “These are the problems we want resolved. We have been holding meetings with the DG but she is not forthcoming. We signed an agreement on how to move the management forward but she has violated the agreement. The strike will last as long as the management is ready to dialogue with us. The agreement and other documents are already with the State Security Services, SSS. That is the nature of our work. We alert all security agencies before crisis erupts,” Adediji said.

On his part, Unwuchola Samuel Okpomo, the Corporation’s AUPCTRE chairman, told Realnews that the staff were agitating that the DG, Boniface Eboka, administrative director, and Muduak Sunebi, legal adviser to the Corporation, who also double as the secretary to the board should be removed. Okpomo specifically accused Sunebi of misleading the director general. “She is causing a lot of problems and that is why the DG is not working well,” he said. He also accused her of incompetence and corruption, asking her to resign immediately.

Contrarily, Eboka told Realnews that the bone of contention was that the workers would want everybody in the Corporation to be promoted whether or not there is vacancy. He insisted it was not right to promote when there was no vacancy. “I cannot compromise the standards and rules because I don’t want to look incompetent. The workers do not even know where to direct their aggression to. It’s not the DG or Eboka that approves promotion. The problem is that the union is working for the previous management team who are not happy with the way they were dropped by government. The union knows what they are doing; an external body instigating them to embark on strike. I was not even aware of the strike action as the administrative director to let you know there is something ominous to it,” he said.

According to him, “When they gave the DG some demands, she had to borrow money to pay all of them that went on training in January this year. When they lay allegations, then they must prove the allegations. They are demanding that five people are due for conversion be converted and I did not convert them. To convert someone, a circular must come from the appropriate authority concerned. And you must have a requisite qualification and letter for conversion. How can I convert a person to an admin officer without a degree? They said I should do it on humanitarian ground. These are the same people that will kick against you that you violated the rules. We have asked them to exercise a little patience. Only those that have taken the exams and passed will be promoted when we declare vacancies.

“We must go by the rules. Unionism is peaceful move, and then when you strike, people will see reasons with you. It is not all about ‘I no go gree. I no go gree’. The major thing they are fighting for is promotion and conversion to staff. We have told them to be patient until vacancies are declared,” Eboka said.

However, all efforts to get Mbanefo to react to the allegations levelled against her management proved abortive.

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