he management of the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) says it does not owe staff salaries and that all unpaid claims of the protesting staff have been processed.
Mr Gbenga Komolafe, Commission Chief Executive (CCE), NUPRC, disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Abuja.
Komolafe spoke sequel to the two-day protest by some staff of the commission who are aggrieved with the management over non-payment of allowances and seven months outstanding salary.
The protesting staff demanded the sack or resignation of Komolafe.
They also alleged poor welfare, non-payment of outsourced personnel and 2023 staff medicals, outstanding upfront allowances, non-remittance of pension deductions from staff salaries, poor working environment, insufficient working tools and outstanding salaries payment, among others.
The protesters made up of staff of the local branch of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria had on Tuesday and Wednesday barricaded the entrance of the head office of the NUPRC in Abuja.
Komolafe, however, told NAN that outstanding entitlement (claims) and all issues the protesting staff raised and itemised in their letter dated July 31 had been settled because the payments had already been processed.
He said obligations relating to claims made by the union had been fulfilled and efforts were already in place to achieve closure on the pending items.
Komolafe said the management found the protest strange because it had earlier invited the staff to meet with the commissioner to ensure that their demands were met and also ascertain what had been paid and if there were still outstanding.
“Engagement is ongoing, while the true financial status of the commission has already been made known to the staff by the management,” he said.
He said the claims fell under recurrent expenditure that no organisation could have the money at once to settle but rather could prioritise according to the availability of fund.
“Funds availability dictates that you have to prioritise and that happens everywhere. No nation, no company has all the funds at the same time, it is a reality, so you manage your cash flow.
“They are my staff and the commission believes that workers are essential resources and most important human capital, so we have robust industrial relations.
“The protest is very outrageous, I have not done anything personal, neither have I committed any offence nor violated anything. All they put on ground is that they have outstanding claims which are purely financial.
“How will that amount to calling for my sack, if there are no ulterior motives?,” he asked.
Komolafe explained that asides for the claims which were delayed by availability of funds, salary and allowance were paid constantly and before the 30th of every month.
“Obligations are always higher than the resource you get, the money you get is always lower than your needs. When it comes to that you will now be rationing and prioritising.
“If Microsoft subscription is expiring, would you want to pay claims and leave the subscription that can shut the whole system down?,” he queried.
Komolafe described the chief executive officer of any organisation as the chief accounting officer that had to prioritise payments accordingly.
He further said that while he was away on an official trip, the commission’s Finance Executive Commissioner informed him of available fronts, because the management always took decisions based on incoming fronts.
According to him, within 10 minutes that the commissioner informed him, he immediately approved that all the pending claims should be settled.
“That fact is there,” he added.
Komolafe said that on his return, he requested to know whether those claims were being paid and the commissioner confirmed that the payments were ongoing but the remitter platform which was outside the purview of the commission was having technical issues.
However, he said the commissioner confirmed that all the payments had been processed based on availability of funds. (NAN)