16 August 2017, Sweetcrude, Lagos – Workers at the troubled Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited in Kogi State on Wednesday said that the company was not in succession crisis as being alleged in some quarters.
The workers, under the aegis of Iron and Steel Senior Staff Association of Nigeria and Steel and Engineering Workers Union of Nigeria, dismissed the insinuations in a joint statement issued in Lokoja.
The workers also denied accusing the leadership of ASCOL of breaching financial and administrative regulations of the company, describing a petition allegedly written on their behalf by one Salifu Oguche Usman as unauthorised and frivolous.
Usman had, in the petition addressed to the Minister of Steel Development, alleged that the workers had accused the management of the ASCOL under Mr Joseph Isah as Sole Administrator of abuse of office, among other allegations.
The statement by the two unions was signed by their Chairmen, Mr Nuhu Salawu and Mr Usman Bashir, and Secretary for ISSSAN, Mr Attah James, and Mr Atabo Omebo for SEWUN.
“We, members of ISSSAN and SEWUN, Ajaokuta Branch, have not consulted, talked to, briefed nor solicited the assistance of anybody, let alone, the said Mr Salifu Oguche Usman to write any petition on our behalf on matters of succession in the company or any other matter therein, ” the workers said.”
According to the unions, the process of appointing or removing the Chief Executive officer of Ajaokuta Steel Company is largely political and at the discretion of the Federal Government.
“At no point did workers appoint chief executives for the organisation. In the case of Isah, it is true he was employed in 1982 and appointed Sole Administrator in 2012.
“We also know as of the fact that when Isah was appointed Sole Administrator of Ajaokuta Steel Plant, Mr A.Y Ibrahim was also appointed Sole Administrator of the National Iron Ore Mining Company, Itakpe, in November 2012.
“As at the time of the appointment of Ibrahim to head NIOMCO, Itakpe, he had already retired from public service and his appointment stood till he voluntarily withdrew his services and the current Chief Executive Officer was appointed to take over.
“It is also a fact the current NIOMCO Chief Executive Officer had also retired before his current appointment,” the statement explained.
The unions also stated that the issue of 2012 promotion arrears raised in the petition had since been addressed by the management of the steel company.
“ All the relevant documentations have been sent to the Federal Government.
“We in the Union have made several follow ups to the Office of the Accountant- General of the Federation and we are confident that all staff who are qualified will be paid when the Federal Government does so as assured during the 2017 Civil Service Week by the Head of Civil Service of the Federation.
“It should also be noted that all salaries and allowances of our members are being paid directly to their accounts through the Integrated Payroll System of the Federal Government (IPPIS) and no funds associated with salaries of workers come to Ajaokuta,” the unions said.
The workers then appealed to the “ emergency social advocates” who they claimed were ill-informed on ASCOL matters to stop the cheap blackmail and not cause disharmony between them and the management.