The travails of 32 employees of NECO over unpaid salaries

Some aggrieved employees of National Examination Council (NECO) enagaged three years ago but yet to receive any salary on account of irregularities recount their ordeals as EDET UDOH writes.

The 32 out of 276 employees of National Examination Council (NECO) employed in December 2017 are appealing to the National Assembly for help. They want the law makers to call on NECO to regularise their employment and pay their salaries.
Investigations by Blueprint revealed that the 32 affected employees were employed in December of that year alongside 244 others who have been receiving salaries since January 2018.

The employment, according to findings, was carried out under the leadership of the former registrar, Prof Charles Uwakwe, before he was suspended the council’s governing board.
Their ordeal, according to investigation, started when the acting registrar, Abubakar Gana, resumed duties and refused to complete the remaining employment formalities of the affected 32 candidate who had been given the necessary document and even resumed duties at their various posting stations.

Employment documentation

Speaking exclusively to Blueprint in a telephone interview under anonymity some of the affected employees said they were employed in 2017 under Professor Uwakwe before he was suspended and since then they have not been paid.
They complained that they have done the necessary documentation including the Integrated Pay-roll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) capturing which is the last documentation they were mandated to do, yet nothing has been done. More worrisome according to them is the fact that they have not been informed why they are not being paid.

Vacancy information

When asked when the vacancy was advertised by NECO in respect of their employment, they said the council never advertised for vacancies since it was established, adding that they were invited for documentation and IPPIS capturing after which they were contacted to submit their credentials for employment.
They said although their appointment letter was signed and issued in December 2017 before Prof Uwakwe was suspended, Gana who took over from Uwakwe simply refused to continue with the process.

244 employees receiving salaries out of 276

They noted that, “The most annoying thing is that about 244 people out of 276 have been receiving salaries since January 2018 till date. We were all posted to different states of the federation. We all resigned our jobs to take up NECO job and some of us have rented homes and worked for some time before we became stranded.
“We were never addressed or informed as to why we have not been paid our salaries. In fact all our communications to NECO management have never been attended to. NECO management hid the information of the 32 of us from the governing council overseeing the activities of council until we presented the issue to the council ourselves. They never promised to pay in any occasion. They pretended as though we don’t exist.”

Effort to get NECO attention failed

Noting further, they said, “We have written to NECO, sent several text messages and even made calls but they refused to respond to our pleas/complaints. We also contacted the governing board with letters, calls and text messages but they have not been able to compel the acting registrar to do the needful. It is on this basis that we are using this medium to inform the National Assembly on what we are going through and appeal to them to look into the injustice perpetrated against us by NECO and give us justice.
“We want tell you that the top hierarchy of NECO had their own candidates who were employed with us who are receiving salaries. The substantive registrar that employed all of us did not complete the process of pay-rolling all of us before he was suspended by the governing board that was constituted in March 2018 by the Ministry of Education to investigate allegation of financial mismanagement leveled against him.
“When the acting registrar assumed office, he has refused to complete the process of pay-rolling the 32 of us who were not pay-rolled by the substantive registrar at the time he was leaving the office due to suspension. Letters written to the management and to the governing board proved abortive in compelling the new registrar to do the needful.

NECO’s reaction

Efforts by Bluepring to speak with the acting registrar proved abortive as he did not pick his calls.
When Blueprint eventually got through to the human resources director, Mr Mustapha, on phone, he said the entire process of that employment was a scam masterminded by the former director of finance (name withheld) which he said is now a regular visitor to the office of Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC).
“Tell me where in the world you see the director of finance conducting employment exercise instead of the Human Resources department? This shows that the employment exercise conducted in December 2017 was a scam, total fraud.
“Again, where else in the world do you see employment being conducted in December instead of January? This shows that the exercise was a scam. It was hurriedly done by the former director of finance who is today a regular visitor at EFCC to answer questions.”
When asked why he said the employment exercise in question was a scam whereas some employees employed through the same process are receiving salaries and some are not,  Mustapha said that is so because the federal government only gave approval for 250 people, adding that was why the system locked against the remaining people after taking the approved number.

Prof Uwakwe’s side of the matter

Reacting to the claim by the human resources director that the 2017 employment exercise was a scam, the former registrar who is currently on suspension in a telephone interview dispelled the claim as untrue saying whoever is saying that is not saying the truth.
“If anybody is saying that the 2017 employment exercise in NECO under my supervision as the registrar/chief executive was a scam, the person is a liar.
“If it was a scam as claimed, why is it that majority of those employed during the period are receiving their salaries and others are not? Whoever is saying the exercise was a scam should think well,” Prof Uwakwe said.

Employment document issued to the 32 affected employees

Some of the documents issued by NECO to the 32 affected employees and those written by them to NECO as seen by Blueprint shows appointment letter dated December 13, 2020 with Ref: NECO/RO/SR/17/….. signed by the former human resources director, Inuwa Audu Fuka, on behalfof the registrar/chief executive officer, notification form for IPPIS capturing dated January 21, 2019 signed by human resources director, Inuwa Audu Fuka, circular from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation with Ref no: OAGF/IPPIS/93/1/87 dated August 29, 2019 to all MDAs to ensure completion of IPPIS formalities of newly employed staff signed by the Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris.
Other letters are introduction letter by state coordinators of NECO on behalf of the newly employed staff posted to their stations by the acting registrar to pay-roll them, letter written and signed by the 32 affected employees to the Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) of NECO calling on them to intervene in the matter, dated October 16, 2019, letter written and signed by the 32 affected employees to the governing board of NECO appealing to them to intervene in the matter dated September 25, 2019, letter written and signed the 32 affected employees to the acting registrar, complaining of non-payment of salaries and appealing for intervention dated July 24, 2018 and staff Identification Card (ID) issued to them on January 29, 2018 and signed by the human resources director, Inuwa Audu Fuka.  

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