Determined to seek redress over what they described as illegal termination of appointment, the 4,029 sacked workers of the National Identity Management System, (NIMS) on Tuesday, stormed the National Assembly to protest their wrongful and unjust disengagement from their work.
The workers who marched to the National Assembly very early in the morning blocked the major entrance to the place thereby preventing the lawmakers of the two chambers and officials from getting entry to the assembly complex.
The disengaged workers are also aggrieved that after they had petitioned the lower chamber of the assembly, the lawmakers have failed to come to their rescue, saying, they are supposed to be their representatives thereby should be more concerned on their plight more importantly when it has to do with their daily bread.
When the gridlock caused by the protesters was becoming more disturbing, the Senate leadership came to address them, assuring them that their grievances would be looked into but asked them to forward their petition to the senate for consideration.
The sacked workers had earlier petitioned the leadership of the House of Representatives asking for the removal of the Director General of the commission, Mr. Chris Onyemenean
Reacting to the protest, the Director-General explained that the sack of its staff members was aimed at achieving an accelerated implementation of the National Identity Management System (NIMS).
Onyemenean stated that the human resource restructuring process was necessary because most of the NIMC workflow process required special skilled staffs that were not obtainable in the staff members inherited from the former Department for National Civic Registration (DNCR).
“Some of the affected workers had moral questions of falsified certificates and the NIMC cannot trust them with the process of identity management of other Nigerians which demanded integrity,” he said.
The NIMC boss also stated that majority of the over 10,000 workers that NIMC inherited at creation in 2007 from the defunct DNCR were ghost workers, declaring that some of them had employment in other organisations, while collecting salaries from NIMC.
His words: “While more than 3,000 ghost workers were eliminated in 2008, the organisation continued to bear the brunt of paying for another 3,000 ghost and redundant workers until August when they were asked to go.
“The nominal roll of the defunct DNCR had over 10,000 members of staff, with a correspondingly high number of executive cadre staff who have remained idle since the massive card production exercise under the SAGEM card issuance scheme that ended in December 2006.
“Management took certain decisions to address these immediate challenges; first was to ascertain the nominal roll of over 10,200 people. At the end of the exercise, we could not account for over 3,000 members of staff inherited from DNCR,” he said.
The House of Representatives Committee on Public Petition had two months ago held a public hearing on the matter giving the workers and the leadership of the commission an opportunity to present their sides of the story for easy intervention, which the affected workers said they had obliged, but could not confirm that of the commission’s leadership.
Over a month after the public hearing, the committee is yet to present its findings to the house, while the disengaged workers cried out that they were getting out of patient.