Tension in Unizik as Productivity Bonus Tears Staff Apart
The hullabaloo surrounding the recently shared productivity bonus, popularly known as “Christmas Bonus” would likely tear the peaceful relationship existing among the staffers of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, (NAU), Awka, Anambra State, if not quickly addressed.
Although now four months old, news48hrs.com reliably gathered that lecturers and non-teaching staff who were allegedly discriminated while distributing the largesse last year are yet saddened and full of heavy heart against the university management, but preferred to fight back in trenches to avoid further victimization.
The genesis of the annual free gifts, according to our investigation, is Prof. Ilochi Okafor, who was the university Vice Chancellor between 2003 to 2008, and continued till the end of Prof. Boniface Egboka's dispensation, who handed over the mantle of leadership to the incumbent VC, Prof. Joseph Ahaneku last year.
News48hrs.com learnt that the bonus usually include 100kg or 50kg bags of rice, gallons of groundnut oil, tomatoes, stock-fish, among other condiments, and they are been dashed out for free to all workers without prejudice but in accordance to their ranks or level, mostly between 20 to 24 December ahead of Christmas celebration each year.
However, two aggrieved teaching and non-teaching staff of the university, who spoke to us under the condition of anonymity, alleged that Prof. Aheneku and his management team denied them access to the bonus sequel to disciplinary action.
“Prof. Aheneku and his team are currently using it to punish what they termed indiscipline staff. They don't give it to people like us, who had received one or more administrative queries which is improper. I for instance, have received two queries for been late to office. I replied the query and was pardoned 10 months ago…”, said an aggrieved staff.
“However, when the time ripe for the distribution last December, the management issued a circular which insisted that we would not get even a portion of the items. After a day or two, specifically at our Christmas Carol, the VC openly forgave us our sins and charged the committee to ensure we get our possessions. We thanked God, went and collected ours. But as soon as the university resumed from December break, we were asked through another circular to return those items again…We quickly returned them, after a week, they urged us to come for our goodies again. And some of us refused because the entire process is frustrating, disgusting, sham and absolutely condemnable”, the staff concluded.
But when contacted in his office, the Director, Information and Public Relations/Chief Protocol Officer, Dr. Emmanuel Ojukwu said it was as a result of unavoidable omission which was never intended to victimize anyone irrespective of offences.
His words: “We have a committee handling the productivity bonus. This administration is not vindictive of anyone. It is a fair administration, although strict on optimum service delivery and discipline. No single staff was witch-haunted for any reason. Those who did not receive their productivity bonus at first, were the staff whose names were omitted. And when we discovered that, we quickly procured more items and inform them to come for materials through our university bulletin.
Also speaking, Mr. Alex Amuzie, the Chairman, NAU Staff Productivity Bonus Committee, refuted the allegation, stressing that “NAU has never victimized a person through productivity bonus. The people whose own were inadvertently not giving on time, was due to omission. And we took proactive measure in making theirs available for collection. As I'm talking to you now, the remaining persons have collected theirs. Some are in the store waiting should in case anyone.