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81 federal UCH workers unpaid for 34 months

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By Abraham Adekunle

Workers tell tales of suffering and humiliation from being owed salaries.

Despite his role as an accountant at the University College Hospital (UCH), a federal teaching hospital under the University of Ibadan, Ayo Adedeji can barely cater for his wife and four children. This is not because he is irresponsible. The reason is that the Federal Government had not paid his salary for 34 months. According to news correspondents, he often borrows money to transport himself to work. For many other non-clinical staff like him, it was another day to “work in vain.”

Prior to 2020, Adedeji had his life planned as a staff of Lekki Concession Company (LCC) Limited in Lagos. He was making enough money to take care of his wife and children. In fact, all he prayed for was to be healthy enough to live with them till old age. However, his decision to quit his job at LCC for a Federal Government job at UCH returned him to ground zero. He took interest in the opportunity to work for the government when he saw an ad for staff roles at UCH in national newspapers. He discussed the offer with his wife and later that week, he applied for the role of an accountant. In February 2020, he got a call from UCH, inviting him and other applicants for a test.

A total of 81 workers at UCH have been unpaid since January 2021.

Although the outbreak of the COVID-19 disease delayed the recruitment exercise for months, the hospital contacted qualified applicants four months later for immediate employment. They were given employment letters, ID cards, and letters of assumption of duty to individual departments. After receiving his appointment letter, Adedeji resigned from LCC and immediately relocated with his family to Ibadan. “I started receiving my monthly salary and my wife, a nurse, looked for another job opportunity here,” he said. Things were fine and he felt proud to have become a Federal Government staff. The first six months were great. This was until January 2021 when things took a drastic turn. The Authorities migrated their payment from the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS) to the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPIS) platform, which is an IT-based system for budget management and accounting.

As of then, the Federal Government said that it conceived the IPPIS to provide a reliable and comprehensive database for the public service, address the problem of “ghost workers” (those who are workers only by name but not by deed), and eliminate manual record and payroll fraud. The department, which is within the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation, pays salaries and wages directly to government employees’ bank accounts. He said that workers waited for nine months before the IPPIS came to capture them in the last week of September 2021. They eventually captured both clinical and non-clinical staff. But while they started paying the clinical employees, non-clinical members of staff were left to suffer for 34 months and still counting. The non-clinical employees affected are 81 in number and they include electric engineers, civil engineers, accountants, executive officers, administrative officers, confidential secretaries, store officers, and IT officers.

More stories from two other victims of unpaid salaries.

Another victim of this occurrence is Olajumoke Oyenuga, an administrative officer at UCH. Before resigning from the Education Advancement Centre in Ibadan, she was making enough money to take care of her two parents who were battling cancer. Many months after joining UCH, her parents’ health started deteriorating because she could no longer provide money to meet their treatment despite obtaining loans from several firms. She is scared that her parents may pass away anytime soon because she finds it difficult to follow through with their prescribed chemotherapy sessions.

Among many other victims is Wasiu Rabiu, a higher technical officer (electrical). According to him, his parents are suffering from diabetes and he has no other means of getting money to pay for their frequent medical expenses. After his two children were sent away from school due to his inability to pay their fees, his sister-in-law accused him of not being a responsible father. Other workers also have stories of suffering children, displacement, and efforts that seem to yield no results.

Efforts that seem to yield no tangible result.

In a bid to address their concerns, the aggrieved staff had on several occasions met with Jesse Otegbayo, Chief Medical Director (CMD) of UCH, but he usually told them that the management was working on their case. The CMD and the Director of Administration also encouraged them to continue to carry out their necessary duties. “If they had informed us early enough that they do not have the power to resolve our problems, we would have cried out long ago,” an aggrieved staff member who spoke under anonymity said. Earlier this year, the affected employees met with Ooni of Ife, Adeyeye Ogunwusi to intervene. Though the king promised to resolve the matter, nothing seems to have been done since June.

Related Link

Office of the Accountant General of the Federation: Website

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