The protest by the workers of the Ministry of Finance, which entered the second day on Tuesday, prevented the meeting of the Federation Account Allocation Committee, which had been earlier scheduled to hold.
The workers, who shut all entrances to the headquarters of the ministry in Abuja over unpaid N1.2bn special overtime allowances, stayed out of their offices from 8am when they resumed work and vowed not to attend to any official assignment until the arrival of the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun.
As a result of the workers’ action, the FAAC meeting could not be convened as top officials of the ministry were denied access to their offices.
The FAAC meeting, which usually holds at the main auditorium of the ministry for the sharing of revenues accruing to the federation among the three tiers of government, was last held on May 25.
The committee had at its May 25 meeting adjourned to June 21 and 22.
But unlike Monday’s protest when the workers allowed skeletal services to go on while their action lasted, business activities were on Tuesday completely paralysed as all the offices in the ministry were shut.
The workers vowed that their agitation would continue until the finance minister was either removed or their allowances paid.
They carried placards with inscriptions such as ‘Adeosun Kemi must stop treating us like foreigners in our dear country, Nigeria’, ‘Adeosun must go’, ‘Pay our entitlements’.
They ignored pleas made by directors and other top officials of the ministry to open the offices to allow government business to go on while they continued their protest.
Even the appearance of the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Mahmoud Dutse, was not enough to placate the protesting workers to open the offices as they asked him to produce the minister.
After waiting for few minutes without being able to gain access to his office, Dutse had to leave to an unknown destination.
The minister did not show up at the ministry throughout the period that the protest lasted.
The ministry had in a statement issued on Monday by the Director of Information, Mr. Salisu Dambatta, said the protest by the workers was not justifiable.
He said that the special overtime allowances being requested by the workers had been stopped since 2014 as it was not listed in any government circular or financial regulation.
The statement read in part, “The payment of what the protesting staff called a special overtime was stopped by the last administration in 2014 on the ground that it was not listed in any extant government circular, financial regulations or the public service rules.
“The sum of N1.2bn computed by the staff union for payment could not have been budgeted for in 2016 in the first place, not only because of the paucity of funds, but also the fact that the allowance was not part of the remuneration in the federal public service.
“The Federal Ministry of Finance, the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation and the Budget Office of the Ministry of Budget and National Planning do not individually or collectively owe any of their personnel their salaries.
“The management of the Federal Ministry of Finance wishes to categorically state that the protests have no justifiable grounds.”