Workers employed by the Federal Polytechnic of Auchi, Edo State have petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari and the Nigerian government to probe the management of the polytechnic for allegedly defrauding workers of N1.8b.
The call for the probe was made last week in a petition addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari and signed by the chairmen of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP), the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Polytechnics (SSANIP), and the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) - J.I. Momodu, G.O. Ikhide, and Hassan Ikanaede, respectively.
According to the petitioners, the fraud dates back to 2014, when the polytechnic management failed to remit staff unions’ check-off dues and welfare deductions for three consecutive months - October, November, and December. Aggrieved by this development, the unions called for a meeting with management, but the meeting failed to yield any tangible results, as workers’ check-off dues and welfare deductions remained unremitted.
Since then, the polytechnic has yet to pay its employees their dues and remittances.
“After several months, the unremitted deductions rose to N1.8 billion,” the petitions reads. “The implication of these developments is that the workers who save hard earned money selflessly through the union's welfare scheme are left in the cold.”
The workers lamented that the polytechnic's failure to pay their remittances has prevented some employees from paying their medical bills, children’s school fees, and fulfilling other financial obligations.
The affected workers have, on several occasions, petitioned the relevant authorities - including the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), and the National Assembly - to probe the polytechnic, yet none have carried out an investigation into the matter.
Aside from withholding dues and deductions, the institution has also failed to release staff letters of promotion for 2015-16 and 2016-17 and to pay promotion arrears for 2012-15.
The workers are also alleging that management has overcharged the workers with a “pay-as-you-earn” tax (PAYE).
Most recently, January 2017 salaries were reduced by over 40 percent without explanation.
“Sir, the above are the highlights of the numerous financial misappropriations and challenges bedeviling the Federal Polytechnic, Auchi. The end result is that members of staff have been left impoverished; we work like elephants but eat like ants,” the workers said in their petition.
The petition concluded with a call on the president to direct the appropriate agencies to intervene in the matter in order to ensure that the workers are paid appropriately.
“We, in light of the above, appeal to you to use your good and respected office to intervene in this unbecoming menace...and help the staff of the Federal Polytechnic, Auchi to recover their savings from their salaries, which have been their hope for both seen and unforeseen financial commitments.”