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By Jide Jegede
March 24, 2010 02:36AM
As the sale of the Nigerian Telecommunication Plc (NITEL) to private investors is mired in controversy, scores of the company's staff in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, on Tuesday, staged a peaceful protest against an alleged clandestine confirmation of appointment and promotion of some top management staff.

The workers called on the federal government to intervene promptly and stop the purported promotions.

According to the protesters, the promotion will further complicate the problem of the company when it is finally handed over to the new owner.

While pleading with the federal government to effect the payment of a backlog of salaries and allowances, the workers accused it of contravening a court order which compelled it to regularise the employment of staff who have remained casual employees for the past 15 years and pay all their entitlements.

Ganiyu Shittu, the state chairman of the workers, said since the order was given on 6 November, 2008 the government is yet to implement it.

The workers said 25 March will mark the 21st month since the government last paid their monthly salaries.

Selective promotion
The staff alleged that senior officers confirmed their own appointment and embarked on 'promotion of some selected staff to disorganise them'.

Insisting that the exercise was ill-timed, the workers called for the intervention of the Federal Government, National Assembly and Bureau of Public Enterprises and other Nigerians in the matter.

'We wish to draw the attention of the Federal Government, National Assembly, BPE and other Nigerians to the recent unpleasant decisions of the top management wherein all the top management staff had their appointments quietly and hurriedly confirmed immediately after the last bidding process was concluded by the BPE.

'It is worrisome that at a time when NITEL staff are appealing daily for the payment of the 20 months salary arrears owed them by the government and BPE, the top management believes this is the right time for them to confirm all their acting appointments and pacify a selected few with promotions on the eve of handling over the company to a new core investor,' the workers stated.

They also accused the government of not being fair to them by delaying the payment of their salaries till it gets the proceeds from the sale of NITEL, saying such was not the case with workers of other privatised government companies like Ajaokuta Steel Company and the Nigeria Airways.