The National Identity Management Commission officials have accused the Federal Government of covering up cases of COVID-19 in the commission.
The President of the Association of the Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria, NIMC unit, Asekokhai Lucky, during an interview with Punch, disclosed that three officials of the agency have contacted the virus.
According to Lucky, workers are pissed because the management of the commission is aware of the development but refused to inform the workers, who could have taken necessary precautions to protect themselves.
He further stated that officials of NIMC will meet with the Federal Government on Friday (today) to discuss COVID-19 scare and other issues that led to the strike.
Recall that the commission embarked on strike on Thursday, an action which saw people who trooped to the NIMC offices across the country stranded as there was nobody to attend to them.
Lucky in his statement yesterday noted that the workers were angry that the government was aware of the COVID-19 case among their workers but failed to disclose the development, while others were put at risk.
He stated, “Three workers of the NIMC have contracted COVID-19 because in our recent meeting a member of staff actually testified to it.”
“The minute of that meeting captured it, as three persons are down with COVID-19. Some of us actually thought those guys were on leave. It was cleared yesterday (Wednesday) that they were treating themselves in isolation centres.”
The union accused the management of keeping silent about the development despite knowing what this could mean to workers of the commission.
Lucky said, “Our annoyance is that the management refused to say it out, knowing that it would have helped us to take all necessary precautions. Nobody is talking to anybody.”
“That is our annoyance. Yes, our pay is poor, but there are ways we can manage ourselves. The three staff members are in the headquarters here in Abuja. One has been treated, but has not gone back for clearance.”
He said the union had been making efforts to meet with the NIMC management over staff welfare but noted that the commission’s boss had not shown interest.
It was learnt that the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, tried to intervene in the matter, but could not, following disagreements on a suitable venue to hold a meeting.
Lucky said, “The minister came today, but we did not speak with him. When he came, we were outside and they asked us to come inside, but we refused because the management said yesterday (Wednesday) that the union chairman should go.”
“The staff said if the union chairman was to go, then we would not go inside to speak with the minister. But at the end of the day and for security reasons, we agreed to go inside.”
“For the minister to address us, we were told again that the minister could not speak to us unless we went to another location on the premises. And because of the crowd, we said we could not go there.”
“We relocated to another location, expecting the minister but we were told that the minister said if we did not come to where he was, then he would not talk to us and the minister entered his vehicle and left.”
The NIMC union leader, however, noted that the workers would meet with the government and the management of the commission today (Friday).
He noted that the Trade Union Congress, the parent union of the workers, would wade into the matter, adding that by 10 pm on Thursday, the workers would meet to decide if they would work on Friday.
Lucky stated, “We told them (the management) to let us go, then tomorrow we will continue the meeting. You know they are after the enrolments. They want people to be registered.”
“But we said no, you guys are after registration, what about those people who do the job? They don’t have us in mind. Well, we told them that the matter is before our mother body, the TUC, and they will hear from us.”
It was gathered that the management was ready to meet with the union on Friday.