Offices of Nigeria’s ombudsman, the Public Complaints Commission, PCC, have been shut down nationwide because the commission cannot pay full salaries of its workers, PREMIUM TIMES has learnt.
The commission, which was created to address complaints by aggrieved citizens or residents in Nigeria against administrative injustice, has for almost a year battled neglect by government, resulting in poorly paid salaries.
In a telephone interview with PREMIUM TIMES, the chairperson of the commission’s labour union, Dorcas John, said the salaries of workers at the PCC had been slashed by over 50 per cent since the beginning of this year.
She said although the commission started having problems with paying salaries about two years ago, the problem worsened since the start of 2016.
“We have been having issues of non-payment of salaries from January till now. They slashed our budget by 50 per cent. Both overheads, capital and everything. It’s no longer funny. Staff can no longer pay their children’s school fees. They pay us only about 40 per cent or sometimes 50 per cent and thereabouts of our salaries.
“As we speak, we have written a circular which was distributed through all the states of the federation. We have ordered that all our offices in states of the federation be shut down,” she said.
Mrs. John is the chairperson of Nigeria Civil Service Union at the commission, an affiliate of the Nigeria Labour Congress.
She alleged that the problem was caused by government’s decision to put the PCC under the control of the National Assembly, two years ago.
“I am just returning from the National Assembly where I told them that there is a conspiracy between them, (National Assembly), Budget Office and the Ministry of Finance.
“We were under the presidency and during that period, this never happened. But they said we are an Ombudsman organisation (a government agency that investigates complaints by private persons against the government). They said that all over the world, ombudsmen are always under the parliament, so they hijacked us and put us under the National Assembly,” said Mrs. John.
She added that there was no attempt by the commission to formally address staff about its challenges before the slash of workers’ salaries.
“They did not tell us anything. They just slashed the salaries,” she said.
The chief commissioner of the PCC, Emmanuel Ogbile, neither picked his calls nor responded to text messages when contacted on the matter.
The PCC was established in furtherance of its enabling act in 2004.