…Faulty Implementation of IPPIS policy in payment of salaries, allowances causing disquiet in military – Investigation
By Kingsley Omonobi
Abuja—Barely days after Vanguard’s report published last week on the discrepancy in the salary paid soldiers in Nigerian Army, against that of airmen and ratings in the Airforce and Navy respectively, the soldiers, who petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari to draw his attention to their plight, yesterday expressed delight that the issue had been resolved in their favour.
Letter to the President
The soldiers had in their petition to the President, stated: ‘’Good day sir, we humbly wish to request your attention to the discrepancy in our salary. Mr President, we the entire soldiers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria are disappointed with the way we are treated among our fellow Armed Forces colleagues.
‘’We, the land Army do much of the job in and outside the country but receive peanut as salary. Sir is it that we are different from Navy and Airforce? Or our service is not required? If so, please let us know .
‘’We can’t be starving ourselves for our country and our service is not recognised. We are doing police work all over the country, dying everyday and night, leaving our families in hunger, no good gratuity after our death.
‘’We are no more interested in dying for our country since there is no justice among our fellow Armed Forces personnel. Imagine a rating in the Navy and Airforce receiving more than a Sergeant in Nigerian Army, who must have served more than 16 years in service.
‘’On December 12, 2019, a token was paid to us when we were hoping to receive our new national minimum wage. Only N2,000 was added to my salary. Is that the new minimum wage sir?
‘’Mr President, our colleagues in the Air Force and Navy received N70, 000 as salary last month but those of us in the Army received N50,000, the gap is wide. Is it that ourcolleagues in the Navy and Airforce are doing more work than those of us in the Army?
‘’Mr President Sir, our Generals are killing us and you are aware that no action has been taken against them till today.
‘’We are told that we will be paid via the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information, IPPIS, system but up till date, the Nigerian Army Finance Department is still the one paying us.’’
However, yesterday, the soldiers expressed delight at the fact that the issues they raised in their petition had been addressed.
When the story was published last week, a top official of the Army who pleaded anonymity, admitted that there were mistakes, promising that the issue would be addressed.
Kudos to Vanguard
The soldiers’ statement issued yesterday read: ‘’I want to really appreciate you and the team of editors and Vanguard as a whole.
‘’Just yesterday (Friday), the Nigerian Army credited our accounts with the sum of N20,000 (PTE-CPL),N25,000 (SGT-SSGT). Without your efforts and discretion, we wouldn’t have achieved this.
‘’Though I’m yet to receive mine due to delays in banks, I believe everyone is benefiting from the pay. Silence has made us suffer for so long.’’
Faulty IPPIS implementation
Meanwhile, the faulty implementation of the Federal Government’s Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System, IPPIS, policy by the office of the Accountant General of the Federation and the Ministry of Finance on the payment of salaries and allowances for officers and men of the military is causing disquiet in the system, investigations by Vanguard have shown.
Situations have arisen where the salary of an Army captain, for instance, had been paid to a Colonel, while that of a Brigadier General had been paid to a Colonel, thus causing discomfort for those affected.
A major once got an alert that showed the salary of a Brigadier General before IPPIS attention was drawn to it and it was rectified.
Currently what applies to the armed forces is the implementation of the Consolidated Armed Forces Salary Structure, CONAFSS, so there is no possibility about one service receiving higher than another.
Last December 2019 for instance, the authorities were able to manage a bubble that threatened to bust when IPPIS paid troops (soldiers) salaries on December 12 and excluded the minimum wage increment.
Navy and Airforce personnel were not paid until December 31. When they were paid, the minimum wage increment was added to Navy and Air force, leaving soldiers to start murmuring. The increment was later paid separately to the soldiers.
This faulty implementation got to a head with the payment of January salaries of military personnel, particularly soldiers, ratings and airmen cadre when soldiers cried out over alleged discrepancies in salaries received after the new minimum wage additions were made.
Investigations revealed that contrary to what soldiers were saying that only N2,000 increment was added to their salary and N23,000 to the salaries of their counterparts in the Navy and Air force, no such addition was made as the same increment for Army is what was applicable to both the Navy and Air Force.
Rather, what happened was that IPPIS added allowances meant for payment of lodging and rent allowance, meant for naval ratings and airmen of the NAF into the salaries of the personnel without distinguishing such, which ought to have been done.
Ratings and airmen who were fully accommodated by their services and were, therefore, not entitled to lodging and rent allowances were not paid anything extra.
Vanguard discovered that currently, there are about 138 barracks built across the country by the Nigerian Army which accommodate officers and soldiers of the Nigerian Army and their families, and more are still being built, hence all troops of the Army, unlike other sister services, are accommodated in the barracks.
Reason of regimentation demands of the Nigerian Army, like mandatory physical training exercises, range classification, medical cross examinations, among others, which are almost daily routines make it imperative that soldiers live in the barracks.
While this is not the same with the Navy and Airforce, it was discovered that close to 60 per cent of personnel of both the Navy and Air Force are not as lucky as the Army with barracks accommodation, leaving them with no choice but rented accommodation.
Consequently, these ratings and airmen, including some who are paired in three per flat, are entitled to lodging or rent allowances. And payment of these allowances is supposed to be separated from payment of salaries.
However, IPPIS implementers made the grave mistake of adding the rent and lodging allowances of Navy and Airforce non-commissioned personnel to their salaries which now increased their pay by N23,000.
“The truth of the matter is that the soldier knows we don’t get rent allowances as we are accommodated, unlike our navy and air force counterparts.
‘’The mistake has been acknowledged by IPPIS and the mistake would not be allowed to happen again,’’ said a senior officer who pleaded anonymity.
An officer disclosed that but for the mistakes, soldiers know that the Nigerian Army under the current leadership was fighting tooth and nail to better their welfare.
An instance was given of 2019 when the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai, approved payment of both allowances to troops for three quarters as a means of boosting morale and improving welfare.
This is aside increased operational allowances paid daily and monthly which troops get as at when due, to encourage and support their commitment to achieving mandates of defeating several security threats, including terrorism, banditry, kidnapping, armed robbery, militancy and herdsmen menace, among others.