Jolted Akwa Ibom State Command of Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS) says their officials are neither involved nor embarking on any form of strike action. Spokesman for the Command, Ogbajie Ogbajie, a Deputy Superintendent, said so in a statement.
According to him, the information about the planned strike action ‘’is false and should be disregarded as it is the handiwork of some mischievous persons trying to create unnecessary panic in the society. Officers of NCS are on duty in all formations in the State and they are carrying out their duties with a high level of diligence and patriotism.’’
“Akwa Ibom State Command is peaceful and calm with inmates going about their daily routine without any form of interruption’’, he adds.
Continuing, he explains that staff welfare in terms of housing and other incentives are being packaged to boost the morale of personnel. It is therefore doubtful that officers will choose this period of improved attention to their care and support to contemplate going on strike.
“While acknowledging the fact that staff welfare in any organisation is a work in progress, therefore, there is certainly room for improvement for the welfare of staff of the Service, there are avenues for communicating dire needs of personnel from field officers to the management at the National level. This is a progressive approach that is open for all and has always been leveraged to strengthen and influence management policies in the interest of the workforce.”
There are reports that some men and officers of NCS are bracing for an industrial action over alleged poor salary structure and general welfare. Staffers are allegedly planning to embark on an industrial action with effect from March 26.
Some of the staff who spoke with reporters described as meagre salaries they receive despite the hazardous nature of their work, and want the Federal Government to look into their plight or risk industrial action.
They accused the federal government of giving all the attention to inmates and the building facilities across the centres without taking the welfare of the officers manning those facilities and caring for the inmates into consideration.
They queried, “Now the big question is why all the attention of the Federal government focusing on the inmates , buildings and others then neglecting the welfare of the officers employed to take care and correct the inmates in line with Mandela’s rule?
“In line with the United Nation Standard, minimum rules (Mandela’s rules) the correctional officers are well paid and taken care of in all capacities to enable them carry out their legitimate responsibilities for the betterment of the inmates and the Nation. But here in Nigeria, the reverse is the case.
“Our salaries and allowances are very poor for both the senior and the junior officers. We are traumatized to the extent of recently some staff committing suicide due to neglect, poor welfare. If this issue is not addressed we are left with no option than to go on strike.
“We want to draw the attention of the federal government that the Modus Operandi of our NCS must be changed to commensurate with the new nomenclature. Officers and men should experience the correction firstly in different areas of their livelihood. They should be trained overseas to be able to adapt to the system of operation for better productivity and to reduce cases of recidivism.
“Accommodations of the NCS officers both senior and junior are eye sore except those officers who are very lucky to work in Akwa Ibom Command and Ikot Ekpene custodial centre but thatch/mud houses are still used as accommodation by the NCS officers in different parts of the country. No befitting Barracks
“Officers and men did not receive a dime as palliative from the Federal government through out the COVID-19 lockdown, but we are still committed to our duties, caring for the inmates, providing guards and security to all the correctional centres to avoid any unusual occurrences to the facilities in Nigeria.”
They are calling on President Mohammadu Buhari to intervene in their plight using his fatherly disposition, so that they would carry out their work effectively.
“Our outcry is to our dear father, President Buhari, to kindly come to our rescue. He should form a committee that will look into our welfare scheme since we do not have a service commission or effective representation in the National Assembly. We don’t want to die in silence in this 21st century,” they pleaded.