Senior government functionaries, including ministers, “use coded language to beg for money”, the Senior Staff Association of Universities, Teaching Hospitals, Research Institutes and Associate Institutions (SSAUTHRIAI), said on Wednesday.
The union emphasised that before getting their legitimate demands for arrears of money from the Federal Government, it had become a norm for public servants to blackmail them to agree to part with some percentage of their entitlements.
The President of SSAUTHRIAI, Comrade Benjamin Akintola, stated this during the sectoral council meeting held in Jos, Plateau State capital.
He said, “These public servants have an attitude, it is only now I am understanding them better. They were asking us for money, but they were not coming direct that out of this money, we will part with some amount. If they had come direct, we would have understood them. A very senior person in the Presidency once asked when we would be coming to greet him in his village. It is only now that I am beginning to see that statement as a coded statement and language.
“So what the man was asking us was when we would be coming to discuss the needful so that we can get the money. He will be expecting us to come. But we didn’t understand that language, it is quite unfortunate about the kind of leadership we have in this country. In fact, I am bleeding within me.
“We once had a meeting with a minister and after our discussion with him, the minister called us to the inner room and he was telling us his preparation to join the governorship race and how one of us gave him about 1,000 T-shirts and another donated him a brand new bus.
“The minister started branding the memo written to the President concerning our N8.2 billion arrears of 53.3 per cent. He said he would make sure that the money is paid before he leaves office. So when we left him, I asked my colleague what the man meant by the coded language and he told me frankly that the man was asking us of money and we should come to the inauguration of his campaign.”
According to him, the way and manner the government had been treating the research institute sector in terms of finance and general attitudes has been very discouraging, especially the attitudes of government functionaries in discussing their issues.
Akintola said, “We have started discussing our demands with government for long. The government set up a high-powered committee at a high level in the Presidency. If you look at the way and manner the meetings were conducted, it is now that I sat down and began to look at all those meetings that we had with government.
“Each time that they invite us to a meeting, it is either the Director that is supposed to bring the report has been transferred to another place or there would be another excuse. I think it is their strategy, it is now I am beginning to see that they were so deliberate in their actions.
“They will tell you that a Director that is saddled with a function and should give a report, has been transferred. So you will now be meeting a new fellow who doesn’t know what he is supposed to do and will say he needs time to study the documents.”
SSAUTHRIAI promised to change its strategy in the pursuits of its legitimate demands since “we are dealing with a government that is insensitive to our plight.”
“What do we do? We are all gathered here, went on strike for four months and they did not even address the issues. It is a serious matter, now that we are here in Jos, we have to evolve a new strategy to deal with these issues”, Akintola stressed.