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Security agencies demand salary harmony

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By Abraham Adekunle

Paramilitary personnel lament poor pay unlike in NPF and DSS.

As the cost of living continues to increase by the day, Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) are taking the initiative to let the remuneration of government workers correspond to the cost of maintaining a good standard of living. For example, in 2019, the Federal Government of Nigeria increased the minimum wage of workers from N18,000 to N30,000. This will ensure a raise in salary to mitigate the effects of inflation and rising cost of goods in the market. While many states have implemented this policy, many other states are yet to do so. In fact, some states in the country still owes their workers as many as six months to one year’s salary.

Workers in this category have no choice but to find other means of surviving. However, many of them are speaking out and granting interviews to the press to create awareness on the matter, especially since they are paramilitary personnel and there is so few an alternative that they could explore. It is for this reason that paramilitary agencies under the Minister of Interior have spoken out about the meager remuneration that they are being given.

Operatives are yet to get salary increase like in NPF and DSS.

According to some personnel of the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCOS), the Federal Fire Service (FFS) and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC), their salary are yet to be increased like their counterparts in the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) and the Department of State Services (DSS). Speaking to the media, they lamented poor remuneration and incentives. In 2021, the president, Muhammadu Buhari, had approved a new salary structure for the NPF.

The improved welfare package occurred after issues were raised during the #EndSARS campaign in October 2020. In response to the agitators, President Buhari had said that he had directed the national salaries, income and wages commission to expedite actions on the new salary structure for the police force. He had mentioned that the wages of other paramilitary services are also being reviewed upwards. Unfortunately, the president’s directive with regards to officers of the paramilitary services had not been executed.

Officers in paramilitary agencies receive way less pay compared to others.

Some of the officers who spoke with the press craved anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the issues and the information they have revealed. It was revealed that personnel of the rank of Inspector in the Police, DSS and EFCC (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission) receive about N160,000 monthly. On the other hand, those of the same rank under the Ministry of Interior receive N68,000 monthly. This salary structures shows a staggering difference of at least N90,000.

One of the officers said that the issue of paramilitary personnel’s salary not being harmonized with that of the Police Force is causing serious crisis within these agencies. “It’s unfair and very bad,” he said. While the president had promised to look into the issue of salary increment during the 2020 #EndSARS protests, the aforementioned paramilitary agencies are yet to enjoy the privilege that the others are enjoying. The aggrieved officer added that salaries given to them cannot take care of their families.

This situation may have ripple effects in conduct of the personnel.

It is not uncommon to encounter personnel of military and paramilitary organizations as well as the police force collecting bribes or demanding such. There have also been cases where aggrieved citizens recorded the illicit act of bribery (since they had no choice but to pay it) and posted the video on the internet. The officer urged President Buhari to intervene on their issue before he hands over to the President-Elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu. He also revealed that life has been difficult for most of them since their counterparts in the Police, Customs, DSS and EFCC have been harassing them as regards their remuneration.

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