Tension is brewing in the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMET) as a result of the alleged removal of allowance for meteorologists by the management.
Investigations show that the allowance, which is solely for meteorologists was expunged from their packages in the month of May 2021, a decision, which did not go down well with meteorologists and has created silent unrest in the agency.
However, the NiMET management through Muntari Ibrahim, General Manager, Public Affairs, insisted that the allowance was not removed from the system, rather, it said some of the staff from Level 14 upward who were not supposed to enjoy such allowance had been benefitting from it illegally over the years.
A source close to the agency said that the benefits, which had been among the welfare packages for meteorologists since the agency become operatives in June 2003 was unilaterally removed in the month of May without recourse to extant rules and negotiations with the workers.
This step has, however, pitched the workers against the management.
The source alleged that the management based its decision to stop the allowance on “an outdated civil service reform,” but said this was not in conformity with the Condition of Service (CoS) of the agency.
The workers specifically accused one Mohammed Sambo, the General Manager, Human Resources, NiMET of spearheading the removal.
The meteorologists claimed that the removal of the allowance was an attempt to relegate the meteorologists to the background, stressing that was the only allowance that separated them from support staff.
The source said: “All meteorologists believe this is a travesty and illegal by the management of NiMet to reduce meteorologists to the background, despite the hard-working conditions of meteorologists to make Nimet viable.
“Staffs find it uneasy about this position by the Director-General because he cannot exonerate himself from this clandestine move by him. The positions of staff are that Mr Sambo should leave after his tenure of secondment expires in August. He was at the University of Abuja on Level Grade 10 but assumed NiMET as a Level 17 officer. This is a miscarriage of justice.”
Besides, the meteorologists are accusing the immediate past management at NiMET of accelerated promotion of some staff, purporting that it had tribal colouration and centred on support staff.
Rather, the meteorologists are clamouring for adequate promotion of all personnel, which they said would make them at par with their colleagues in other agencies in the industry.
It was learned that various union bodies in the Nigerian aviation industry were already informed of the recent happenings in the agency and may meet with the management of NiMET in the next few days to discuss the issue.
A top union leader in the Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals (ANAP) confirmed that the union was already informed, saying that plans were underway to meet with the management of NiMET on the issue in the coming weeks.
Speaking on the issue, Muntari Ibrahim, General Manager, Public Affairs, NiMET, debunked the claim of some of the meteorologists.
Ibrahim said that some of the beneficiaries of the allowance had grown to Level Grade 14 and are no longer entitled to get such allowance.
According to him, the management took the decisive step to stop the allowance after investigation, following series of complaints from the Account Department, which insisted that some of the beneficiaries were not entitled to such benefits.
Ibrahim explained further that the allowance was only meant for meteorologists on shift period, maintaining that meteorologists on Level 14 and above or Assistant General Manager (AGM) could not lay claim to it.
He said: “What transpired is that there was series of complaints from the Account Department that some of the meteorologists that are earning the allowances have reached AGM position, which is Level 14. Staff from Level 14 upward are not entitled to such allowance, but unfortunately, they have been benefiting from it over the years.
“So, when the management investigated, some of the names were expunged from the system. This decision didn’t affect everyone, but those on Level 14 upward. It is only those who are on shift that is supposed to enjoy such benefit. If you are not on shift, how can you get what you are not entitled to? If there is anyone that has any complaint, such a person should come forward.”