The staff of the comatose pioneer national telecom carrier held officials and visitors to the ministry hostage for over three hours.
No official or visitors were allowed into the complex as protesters blocked all entrances, armed with placards carrying inscriptions which conveyed their grievances. Finance Minister Olusegun Aganga later spoke to the protesters and promised to expedite action on the payment of arrears.
The minister promised to talk to the Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE) and the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF) to source money to pay the workers. The protesters condemned government’s lack of interest in their plight and threatened to disrupt government activities.
A spokesperson for the protesters who did not give his name said: “We haven’t got any feedback since approval of the payment was given by the president. Right now, there is no concrete evidence on how far the approval has gone and all attempts to have audience with the Minister of Finance were turned down.”
To resolve the Nitel/M-tel liabilities, the Debt Management Office has been authorised by the Presidency to issue a bond. The Federal Ministry of Finance has also been directed to raise the amount required to resolve the matter of staff liabilities.
SIMEON OGOEGBULEM in Abuja, Nigeria