Nigeria Correctional Service (NCS) functionaries are currently bracing for an industrial action over alleged poor salary structure and general welfare.
Insiders in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, say they are actually emboldened by the planned strike action of the rank and file of the Nigeria Police who threaten to down tools with effect from March 26.
The looming strike eventually sees the light of the day may lead to security collapse in Nigeria as junior officers of the Nigerian Police Force have also concluded plans to down tools over poor salary and welfare compared to other security sister agencies.
Some of the staff who spoke with our correspondent 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.
The officers 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 traumatised 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
“The Nigerian Correctional Officers and Men did not receive a dime as palliative from the Federal government throughout 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 however called 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.
Meanwhile, when the Force Public Relations Officer, HU Chukwuedo was contacted, he said he was not privy to any strike threat by the officers. He, however, said “well I’m not aware of any threat by our officers to go on strike and I’ve not even gotten the lead from any quarter that any of our staff is protesting over anything.’’