There are indications that the approval of housing and vehicle allowances for members of the National Working Committee of the ruling All Progressives Congress is causing disquiet among the staff at the party’s national secretariat.
The development came in the wake of protest by workers who claimed they were still owed September salary.
This is as the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Felix Morka, told our correspondent that the salary issue was being addressed, noting that the delay was as a result of an ‘internal mechanism.’
The revelation came some weeks after the APC National Chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, replaced six suspended departmental directors at the national secretariat.
The affected directors were Anietie Offong (Welfare); Bartholomew Ugwoke (Research); Abubakar Suleiman (Finance); Dr Suleiman Abubakar (Administration); Salisu Dambatta (Publicity) and Dare Oketade, (Head of Legal).
In the last two weeks, the media has been awash with reports of their alleged dismissal and replacement with others.
Defending his action at a media parley, Adamu disclosed that the move was to sanitise the system.
He also denied allegations that he appointed his cronies as replacements.
While noting that he met systemic corruption, people who were tardy in their jobs and a register containing over 200 names that included ghost workers, the APC chairman said it was impossible for him to overlook such anomalies.
The sacked directors, however, contended that their removal was premeditated.
A former Director of Administration of the party, Abubakar Suleiman, accused the Adamu-led NWC of failing to disclose their ‘sin’ before forcing them into ‘compulsory annual leave’.
He said, “Adamu lied. Nothing went wrong. The secretariat was in good hands. What necessitated his decision was not known to us or anybody. It was an agendum. Nobody was indicted. I am sure you must have heard the accounts of other directors too. Nothing went wrong anywhere.”
Asked about Adamu’s claim of N7.5bn, he dismissed it as non-existent.
He said, “As directors, we didn’t approve anything. Our job was to implement. If the party feels otherwise, let the EFCC or other anti-corruption body be invited to investigate the APC accounts, including the secret ones being operated by the party leadership.”
Meanwhile, barely one month after they were replaced, our correspondent learnt from top party sources that Adamu and members of the NWC paid themselves four years allowances.
One of the sources said, “Adamu and the NWC members have paid themselves four-year allowances upfront. Of course, they are doing this because they know many of them can’t stay long in that secretariat and it is unfortunate many people are afraid to talk about it.
“We made N39bn just from the sale of forms at the convention, you won’t believe that by September (last month), the party leadership spent over N20bn out of it.
“If he contests it, let him bring details of the account rendered before those directors were subtly pushed out of the system. I read the reports from his interview with the media last week.
“There was nowhere in the handover note left in the care of the party leadership that N7.5bn was owed, as Adamu is alleging. Before the Adamu-led NWC took over, all arrears were cleared and salaries were not owed. It is on record that we were usually paid on the 25th of every month. What do we have now? They are just allocating allowances and buying themselves cars all over the place.”
Some disgruntled and pensive-looking staff told our correspondent that life had become unbearable for them under the current leadership of the party.
They said they were even more angered by the ongoing renovation at the secretariat, which they claimed was being done at the expense of their survival.
An administrative staff member confided in our correspondent that after their protest, the chairman only approved the payment of August salary.
She said, “They did not even give us any form of assurance when we will be paid our September salary. I must say things have been tough working under this current chairman.
“While we were still struggling to contend with being owed September salary, the leadership of the party brought in people to remodel the structure of the secretariat in order to give it a facelift.
“How do you leave payment of people’s salary and focus on the renovation of a building? It shows the party is not broke as they are trying to make us believe.”
Reacting to the developments, the party’s spokesperson, Morka, said the salary issue was being addressed by the leadership of the party. He attributed the problem to the audit system and internal mechanism of the party structure.
He stated, “As an institution, sometimes delay happens. It is not that it is intended to be the outcome. We are renovating the place to make it modern, nothing special. It is not restructuring and if we are renovating, it means we are not moving out soon.”
He, however, declined to speak on the allocation of cars and housing allowances to NWC members.
When contacted, the Publicity Director of the party, Bala Ibrahim, also said he was not aware if the party approved such allowances for its NWC.
“I am not aware of that. Again, I am not an NWC member. If no such information is passed to me, I won’t be in the know,” he stated.
Corruption fighting back – NWC
A member of the NWC and Deputy National Chairman (South), Emmanuel Enekwu, also refused to confirm or debunk the report.
Rather, he threw his weight behind some ongoing reforms being undertaken by the leadership of the party, saying being paid allowances had nothing to do with staff salaries.
“I don’t want to say anything about that. Your source in the secretariat should be able to buttress his claim with substantive evidence that we received such allowances.
“They have not paid them (workers) salaries, yes I agree. But it is a problem from the bank, not that they don’t want to pay them. It is a long issue.
“If they pay NWC members allowance, does it have anything to do with their own salaries? Are we on the same level? They are permanent staff; we are there to serve for four years. So they shouldn’t equate themselves with us. That is not to say Adamu approved anything anyway.
“Secondly, it was because we have a lot of ghost workers in the system. This is why we introduced on-the-table payment. You will go and collect so that they can be inspected and verified.
“You know some people will definitely not be happy with this development. It is a case of when you fight corruption, they fight you. So they are fighting back,” he stated.
When reminded that the sacked directors swore that the secretariat that the staff members were duly engaged with appointment letter, Enekwu disagreed.
“It is not true. I am the chairman of the committee set up for secretariat matters. Very few of them have employment letters. There are certain I may not know but I know there are ghost workers there,” he said.
Invite EFCC – Ex-spokesman
A former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the party, Yekini Nabena, also expressed concerns over the non-payment of staff salaries, saying it was time anti-corruption agencies were invited to probe the party’s account.
A worried Nabena stated that the ruling party until now was not known to owe workers, whether permanent or ad hoc, their remuneration.
“It is sad to hear that the party and those placed in charge of its operations cannot pay salary, especially after the N5m, N10m and N20m people raised to be part of the conventions held this year. It is very sad.
“And this is the peak that the ruling party has made so much money compared to any other time. If there is anything like that, the EFCC should be invited to investigate the party. There must be corruption going on there.
“If it has got to the stage where salaries are not being paid, the EFCC and other anti-graft outfits should investigate the party. There is something definitely wrong somewhere.”
The ruling APC had been heavily criticised following its failure to obey the directive of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari, to refund payment for the Expression of Interest and Nomination Forms of over 126 disgruntled aspirants who participated in its March 26 National Convention.
Some affected aspirants said they had explored options to no avail, blaming the party’s National Chairman for the situation.
Depending on the category of the expression of interest and nomination forms, the 126 aspirants who contested various positions were made to cough up between N20m and N2.5m.
At the end of the exercise, the APC raked in well over N700m with an additional N3bn generated among stakeholders and party members ahead of the presidential primary. Source