A week after PREMIUM TIMES reported the plight of staff members at the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), over unpaid salaries, the anti-corruption agency has cleared the arrears.
The workers had spent the Christmas period without being paid their November and December salaries.
We’re dying of hunger, CCB workers lament non-payment of salaries
PREMIUM TIMES reported on Christmas Eve how workers of the agency decried the non-payment of their salaries, which they said had brought misery upon them.
The CCB is of one Nigeria’s anti-corruption agencies with the sole mandate of assets verification of public officers in the country.
In spite of its crucial responsibility in tackling widespread heist in Nigeria’s public sector, the agency has grappled with poor funding, a development CCB workers say “exposes assets verification officers to kickbacks from politicians who want to beat the system.
“Most personnel of the CCB have become beggars; from fare to food, we ask relatives and friends to get by. We are dying of hunger,” a distraught staff member had told PREMIUM TIMES in a telephone interview last week.
Our salaries have been paid – Workers
But elated workers on Friday morning told this reporter that they were finally paid on Thursday, about two days to the New Year.
One of the workers who pleaded anonymity said they were paid both November and December salaries on Thursday.
“Yesterday (Thursday) morning, I received my November salary. A few hours later, I received another bank alert for my December salary,” a CCB staff member told PREMIUM TIMES on Friday.
Another worker said, “It was like a dream on Thursday when I received payments for both November and December salaries,” adding, “One was in the morning while the other was in the after.”
“Honestly, we can’t thank PREMIUM TIMES Newspaper enough for bringing our plight to Nigerians and the world,” an excited staff said of this paper’s reportage of the issue.
“After friends and relatives read PREMIUM TIMES’ report over the unpaid salaries, they reached out to me, and my family was able to celebrate Christmas,” the worker noted of the report’s impact in addressing his hardship.
“Everybody has been paid up to December,” Babs Ogunjimi, CCB’s Director of Finance and Accounts confirmed in a telephone interview on Friday.
Mr Ogunjimi had explained last week that the federal government was working hard to clear the backlog of salaries.
Addressing journalists at a press conference in Abuja last month, the Chairman of the CCB, Mohammed Isah, said “Our staff are poorly paid.”
Mr Isah, a professor of law, ventilated his agency’s operational encumbrances.
Top on the list was poor manpower for an intractable problem of corruption in Nigeria’s public service.
“We have less than 800 personnel across the country for 10 million public officers whom we are investigating their assets,” Mr Isah lamented, warning of the “danger ahead if new persons are not recruited to replace the deceased and retired.”
On budgetary allocations, Mr Isah said some persons were out to “strangulate” the bureau by starving it of funding.
“We get N36 million as overhead per release, and this year, we have received nine releases of N297 million (in total, instead of N324 million),” he had explained.
“Monitoring more than 10 million public officers is not easy,” Mr Isah revealed of the manpower shortage.
“Of all its mandate, verification is one of the most, if not the most tedious exercise. It is capital intensive. Despite the above, and the fact that the bureau is poorly funded considering our budgetary allocation, we are determined to go ahead with the process to ensure the success of the fight against corruption,” he had assured.
CCB 2022 budget
PREMIUM TIMES’ analysis shows that, among the country’s anti-graft agencies, only the CCB, a perennially underfunded body set up to handle asset declarations of public officers across all levels of government, is billed to take a cut – up to nine per cent from its 2021 budget – in the coming year.
The CCB has proposed a budget of N2.9 billion for 2022. The amount is a decrease of 9.4 per cent from the N3.2 billion appropriated for it in the 2021 budget.
Of this, N1.7 billion is earmarked for ‘Salaries and Wages’ while N22 million is proposed for ‘Local Travel and Transport for Training,’ and N120 million for ‘Local Travels and Transport Others’.
In the proposed budget of the bureau, ‘Utilities’ will gulp N15 million, ‘Materials and Supplies’ is to take N41 million, office rent, N24 million, and refreshment N7 million.
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