The Accountant-General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, on Thursday called on the Nigeria Labour Congress to shelve its warning strike in order to allow the office to complete the process of payment of salaries of civil servants.
Idris, who said this in a statement issued in Abuja, noted that the industrial action had led to a situation where workers who were directly involved in the release of funds for payment of salaries could no longer have access to their offices.
He maintained that the payment of salaries could not be achieved under an atmosphere where critical stakeholders were not allowed access into their offices.
This, he noted, might make it difficult for the Federal Government to fulfil its promise of payment of salaries to workers before the end of the month.
Idris appealed to labour unions to shelve their strike in order to enable the office pay salaries to workers.
He noted that while he reported to duty on Thursday with members of staff of his office, they were denied access as the gates were shut.
He explained that after much appeal to the labour union leaders, he was allowed to go into the office, while the gate remained shut to other members of staff.
This development, he noted, had made it practically impossible for the office to complete the process of payment of salaries.
Idris said, “We have a standing order from Mr President to pay workers’ salaries from the 25th of every month, which we have strived hard to fulfil to Nigerian workers, and this month will not be an exception.
“I must explain that salary payment involves a number of processes that do not begin and end with the OAGF. There are other critical stakeholders like the Cash Management Department in the Ministry of Finance and others, who are supposed to do their beat before we can finalise.
“On coming to the office this morning, we met the gates of the office locked and wondered how we could keep this promise if we are being locked out of the office. After speaking with the local arm of the labour in the office on the need to pay salaries, they conceded to allow me and some of my staff in, but the gates are still locked.
“I therefore appeal to labour to open our gates so that we can have unhindered access to meet their needs.”
He added that the Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari had demonstrated high commitment towards meeting the welfare of Nigerian workers.
Some of the steps taken by the government to promote workers welfare, according to him, are the payment of over N50bn for promotion arrears from 2012 to 2016; and approval of another N60bn for the payment of salary arrears from 2011 to 2016.
Others are the President’s recent approval of N22.68bn for the payment of pension arrears to the retirees of the defunct Nigeria Airways, which had been outstanding for over 14 years, as well as approval of N20bn to meet the demand for infrastructure development in both federal and state universities.
“We are all working for the same system and we should do nothing that can threaten the economy and lead to the collapse of the same system,” Idris added.