Delegates’ aides, drivers kick over welfare packages
BY HENRY UMORU AND LEVINUS NWABUGHIOGU
BARRING security respite today, the National Conference may witness some disruption following the inability of the secretariat to respond to welfare packages demands made on it by aides and drivers of delegates.
The matter which had raged on for a while now, however, assumed a disturbing dimension on Monday when the Deputy Chairman of the conference, Professor Bolaji Akinyemi read a petition written to the Inspector General Police (IGP) by the aides.
According to him, the aides had resolved to stage a peaceful protest today to press home their demands.
This came on a day delegates lamented that they had not been paid their allowances for six weeks.
Akinyemi, who explained that the Federal Government did not make any monetary provisions for the helps of the delegates said that the conference would not allow any form of disruption, stressing that security men might be unleashed on the aides should they go ahead with the planned protest.
He said :”We have a letter referred to us by the IGP because the aides and drivers of delegates have petitioned the IGP. The IGP has referred this to us. Now, the Honourable Chairman appealed to delegates to appeal to aides and drivers. We don’t want an unpleasant situation. If you can’t control these aides and drivers, the security men will.
“So, please talk to your aides and drivers, don’t give the impression that they are doing this with your connivance. The Police now are under instructions to ensure that nothing disrupts our work here. We’ve explained we didn’t draw up our budget. Government drew up this budget and gave it to us and made no provision for your aides and drivers. We are appealing to you to help us avoid any ugly incident that may happen.”
Responding to the letter when debate was opened on it, a Labour Party delegate, Dan Iwuanyanwu in a rather surprising manner told Akinyemi that the protest plan may have been masterminded by the aides of the secretariat.
The issue further opened a sore part which was the non payment of allowances of the delegates.
He said: “The last time you gave us notice of the intended protest, I personally did my own investigation. It may also shock you to know that you may also talk to your aides and drivers, because they are behind it. They are complaining about their own welfare.
“I expect that the secretariat should also make provisions for them. Maybe they are not aware that you have not paid us here for accommodation and transport for six weeks and yet we are coming.
“Some of the empty seats you see here, they’ve driven them from hotel because hotel bill is paid upfront. It is not in arrears, but those of us committed to this cause, we are here. Six weeks you have not paid the delegates in this house.
“Maybe the drivers and the security men should also be told that everything is not about money but we advise you also talk to your security men, your own staff because they are complaining that you are not taking care of them.”
Clearing the fog, Akinyemi told the delegates that the presiding officers of the conference hadn’t also been paid their allowances.