The House of Representatives Committee on National Planning and Economic Development has expressed concern over the non-payment of salaries of 19 new staff of the Nigerian Institute for Social and Economic Research (NISER) since 2019.
The Chairman of the Committee, Representative Abdulganiyu Olododo, said at the 2021 budget defence at the House of Representatives on Thursday that such a situation could lead to youth protests.
He said that while reviewing NISER’s 2020 budget performance, the committee discovered that a total sum of N603.3 million was appropriated for personnel costs and although over 80 per cent had been released and expended in 2020, the 19 new young staff worked without pay.
Olododo added: “It is disheartening and sad to see that a research institute of NISER’s standing cannot sit down and present a seamless budget defence before the parliament because the management staff are not on the same page.
“I want to state here that a committee will be set up to monitor the implementation of the budget and the impact the activities of the Institute have on the Nigerian economy. We cannot accept anything less, because this 9th Assembly is made of serious minded people and our people are suffering and will continue to suffer from agencies like yours whose mandate is to provide guidance to the government on the socio-economic growth of our country”.
Earlier, the Director-General of the institute, Dr Folarin Gbadebo admitted to the lawmakers that the 19 young Nigerians were recruited in 2019, but were yet to be paid their salary more than one year after.
“I had been to the Director-General of the Budget Office who had signed on it and yet nothing happened. I still went back and was told that the DG budget still has to countersign in 2020, since this is a new accounting year; but as we speak, nothing has happened”.
In their attempts to answer questions from the legislators at the budget defence, Gbadebo and some members of management present were seen openly disagreeing among themselves.
The committee chairman then closed the meeting, asking the DG to come back with his proposal, get fully briefed on happenings in his agency and reappear at a later date, while admonishing the members of management to go back and conduct a research on themselves and staff before returning to the House.