…All efforts to reach management fell on deaf ears, hence the protest-Staff

From Noah Ebije, Kaduna

For the Director General (DG) of the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON), Kaduna, Major General Aniedi Edet, it appeared suspicious that certain external forces are pushing some civilian staff in the organisation to frustrate progress and production of arms and ammunitions and other services in the Corporation.

Daily Sun gathered that DICON was built on a sound commercial footing to continuously produce and constantly improve on the quality of arms and ammunition needs of the Defence, Security and foreign policy of Nigeria with the best international standards.

Major General Edet said when he assumed duty as the DG of DICON in July last year, he was welcomed by protest by same set of civilian workers whom again, he said, resumed the protest on Tuesday, April 30th, and May 1st, 2024 despite availing them with all the information regarding their demands.

The civilian staff had protested non-enrolment into the Federal Government’s Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), non-payment of allowances, as well as promotion allowance amongst other demands.

However, DICON DG described the protest as, suspicious, mischievous and baseless,” adding that the protesting staff risked imprisonment under the Corporation’s Act due to their participation in the protest.

The protesting staff displayed banners with messages such as , “We want enrollment into IPPIS,” , and “Payment of 2019 minimum wage arrears.”

Edet explained that the financial entitlements were being processed through official channels and required patience. He emphasized that salaries were paid promptly and reminded the staff of the consequences of violating the Corporation’s Act, which prohibits protests and trade unionism.

“By the provisions of section 11 of the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria ( DICON) Act 1962 it is an offence punishable by imprisonment on conviction of any person employed by the Corporation in any capacity to take part in a strike or trade union activities the management shall establish proper channels of communication with employees in order to address issues affecting their joint or individual interest”. He pointed out.

Major General Edet clarified that DICON was not the only agency on the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS) platform and that migrating to IPPIS would require time and potentially disrupt salary payments. He also mentioned that other agencies on GIFMIS were receiving salaries without protest.

“The lies they tell is that it is only DICON that is on GIFMIS. It is not true. It is a government platform. Am I the one that brought GIFMIS, if the government platform is not good, then you are telling Abuja they don’t know what they are doing. I should go and tell Abuja to change it from Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS) to Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System ( IPPIS) And they will stop your salary for six months. It will take sometimes to successfully move from GIFMIS to IPPIS.They will be on my neck if they don’t get salary for six months.And What about other agencies that are also there on the platform. We are taking this up with the ministry of defence and the ministry has noted. The whole staff of DICON have received their April salary”. He explained.

Regarding the staff’s claims about unpaid allowances and minimum wage arrears, Edet stated that these were not funds directly controlled by DICON and that the Corporation was actively pursuing their payment with the relevant authorities.

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He emphasized that other organizations were also awaiting these payments and that protesting would not expedite the process.

Edet further clarified that the promotion arrears for 2022 and 2023 had not yet been paid to any government agency, including DICON. He urged the staff to be patient and wait for the official release of these funds.

“They talked about 2022 and 2023 promotion. If you ask me how many of them were promoted in 2022 and 2023, they are not more than two of them. You are not promoted in 2022 and 2023, you are fighting for promotion arrears. The federal government managed to clear 2019, 2020 and 2021 promotion arrears last year. The promotion arrears of 2022 and 2023 have not been paid, not only to DICON but to all the ministries. So they have to wait until it is applicable. Why are they carrying placards and deceiving members of the press about something that is clear and open”. He said.

The DICON boss expressed concern that the protest could jeopardize DICON’s production and attract unwanted attention, potentially discouraging investors. He emphasized that the protesting staff were a minority and that the majority of DICON employees were diligently working in the factory.

“I want to talk about the implications of this action. It has alot of implications based on national security. We are in the business of arms and ammunitions production. There is no amount of money and allowance paid to DICON for the staff that I will keep it without paying to them. So this disgruntled elements want to jeopardise the production we are doing at DICON. They have received salaries. So what they are doing is to attract unnecessary attention. That is what they do. None of the money they are claiming is with us. At the time Mr. President is making efforts for DICON to grow, they embark on protest to drive away our investors because DICON staff are protesting.

“But as I speak to you the staff that are supposed to work are in the factory working. So who are these staff that are trying to give us bad name. We know that the situation in Kaduna is a little bit volatile. So who knows if this kind of bad action can be hijacked by miscreants on a national infrastructure like DICON. Can we afford it.So you better draw the attention of the authority before it is too late. I have done what I should do as the DG DICON, I have written my report.I have reported to Abuja. What else can we do.

“What is going on there, the protest is mischief, it is baseless and unfounded. We are professional and law abiding and we have nothing to hide. There are ways to express your grievances but based on the DICON Act, staff are not allowed to protest and their action is highly illegal”.DICON DG said.

Edet concluded by reiterating that the protest was illegal and unfounded. He stated that DICON was a professional and law-abiding organization with nothing to hide and that there were appropriate channels for expressing grievances.

However, some of the protesting staff who spoke to Daily Sun on condition of anonymity said all efforts to reach out to the management of DICON fell on deaf ears, hence the protest, saying, “We are yet to start receiving the N35,000 minimum wage.”

“Another issue is non-payment of our 2019 minimum wage arrears that had been cleared by the federal government, even the palliative given by the government, we have not received anything.”

The protesting staff called on the Federal government and the Ministry of Defence (MOD) to see the need and enroll them into IPPIS so that they could benefit just like their counterparts in other military agencies are benefitting.