THEWILL gathered that an exclusive allowance allotted to the workers was removed from their packages in May 2021. Most of the workers are believed to be unhappy with the management, a situation that has triggered tension within the agency.
Rebutting the workers’ claim, the NiMET management through Mr Muntari Ibrahim, General Manager, Public Affairs, informed that the allowance was not removed from the system. According to Muntari, some of the staff from Level 14 upwards, who were not supposed to enjoy such allowance, had wrongly been benefiting from it over the years.
THEWILL investigation showed that for the past 18 years the said benefits, which had been among the welfare packages for meteorologists, were unilaterally removed in May without recourse to extant rules and negotiations with the workers.
A source, who spoke to THEWILL on condition of anonymity, informed that the management must have based its decision to stop the allowance on “an outdated civil service reform,” but said this was not in conformity with the Condition of Service (CoS) of the agency.
The workers claimed that the removal of the allowance was an attempt to relegate them to the background, stressing that was the only allowance that separated them from the support staff.
The source said, “All meteorologists believe this is a travesty and illegal by the management of NiMet to reduce meteorologists to the background, despite the hardworking conditions of meteorologists to make Nimet viable.”
Besides, the workers also accused the immediate past management of NiMET of accelerating the promotion of some selected staff, purporting that it had a tribal colouration and centred on the support staff. Rather, the meteorologists are clamouring for adequate promotion of all personnel, which they said would make them at par with their colleagues in other agencies in the industry.
It was learnt that various union bodies in the Nigerian aviation industry were already informed of the recent happenings in the agency and may meet with the management in the next few days to discuss the issue. A top union leader in the Association of Nigerian Aviation Professionals (ANAP) confirmed to THEWILL that the union was already informed, saying that plans were underway to meet with the management of NiMET on the issue in the coming weeks.
Speaking on the issue, the General Manager, Public Affairs, NiMET, Muntari Ibrahim, debunked the claims of some of the workers.
Ibrahim stated that some of the beneficiaries of the allowance had grown to Level Grade 14 and are no longer entitled to it. According to him, the management took the decisive step to stop the allowance after conducting an investigation, following a series of complaints from the Accounts Department, which insisted that some of the beneficiaries were not entitled to such benefits.
Ibrahim explained further that the allowance was only meant for workers on shift period, maintaining that those on Level 14 and above or Assistant General Manager (AGM) could not lay claim to it.
He said, “What transpired is that there was a series of complaints from the Accounts Department that some of the meteorologists that are earning the allowances have reached AGM position, which is Level 14. Members of staff from Level 14 upwards are not entitled to such allowance, but unfortunately, they have been benefiting from it over the years.
“So, when the management investigated, some of the names were expunged from the system. This decision didn’t affect everyone, but those on Level 14 upwards. It is only those who are on shift that are supposed to enjoy such benefits. If you are not on shift, how can you get what you are not entitled to? If there is anyone that has any complaint, such a person should come forward,” he added.
NIMET is a government agency charged with the responsibility to advise the Federal Government on all aspects of meteorology; project, prepare and interpret government policy in the field of meteorology and to issue weather (and climate) forecasts for the safe operations of aircrafts, ocean-going vessels and oil rigs.
The Act that established the agency also makes it the responsibility of the agency to observe, collate, collect, process and disseminate all meteorological data and information within and outside; co-ordinate research activities, among the staff and publish scientific papers in the various branches of meteorology in support of sustainable socio-economic activities in Nigeria.