Yemi Adedeji, Abuja
Staff of the Ministry of Science and Technology, Thursday paralysed official activities of the ministry when the workers protested against Amina Shamaki, the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, over alleged unpaid training and other allowances.
The protest which took place right inside the office of Shamaki saw the protesters carrying placards with inscriptions, while also shouting; “Shamaki must go; Shamaki ole (thief)”.
The frustrated workers who protested under the aegies of Joint Union Council said all efforts made so far to ensure that the permanent secretary releases the file were not successful as she was not making herself available to the union executives.
Usino Christian, Chairman of the union, while addressing journalists said information available to the staff was that the minister had since approved the training for all the staff and passed the file to the permanent secretary but the latter refused to release.
Also, Kolawole Adegoke, the Union Secretary, Comrade , said the staff of the ministry had similar problem with the permanent secretary in December last year which later led to confrontation.
His words: “In December when we had crisis with the PS, we did everything we could through diplomacy before we go into confrontation and with this situation again we learnt from the right source that the minister has used his good wisdom to endorse that every staff should go on training for 2017 in particular.
“With the situation on ground now and we all know, according to the calendar of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, when it is 28 of this month, everything will vanish and she is not ready to do anything now for the staff and we also know when everything vanishes there is no hope and the red signal we are seeing says we must demand for our right and that’s why we have to come here what the staff are demanding for right now is that, they are even ready to sacrifice the training and everything, but she must go.” He added
Meanwhile, the permanent secretary who refused to be intimidated by the protest had earlier told the protesters that nobody could move her out of the ministry.
According to her, “nobody can take me out of this office. God brought me here and not human being. He is the only one who can take me out of here.”
Ogbonnaya Onu, was however forced to intervene and appealed to the while protesters while also assuring them that whatever belongs to the staff would definitely release to them.
He stated: “I thank you very much because when I came as the minister I made it a point of duty to work very closely with the workers because I was a worker myself at the University of Port-Harcourt before I won election as the first elected governor of old Abia State and as a governor I worked very well with workers and that’s why when I came in I met with the union leaders.
“I want you to be calm and give me some time, I have other official engagements. I wanted some directors to address you but when they said you insisted to see me, that is why I came to address you. The event I am also going for is important for our ministry,”
“I will call on you to remain calm, as a matter of fact whatever belongs to you, we will definitely give it to you because when we have a happy workforce we can achieve a lot in this ministry. We are committed and we will work with you.”