Staffers at the headquarters of the National Economic Reconstruction Fund, NERFUND, paralyzed business activities on Wednesday, as they accused the agency of mismanagement and embezzlement of funds running into about N700m.
The workers, aside the issue of embezzlement, also protested the failure of government to make a categorical pronouncement over the status of the organisation after almost 16 years when former President Obasanjo brought up the idea of merging Development Finance Institutions comprising NERFUND, Bank of Industry and others.
The protesting workers, who carried placards with several inscriptions such as “We want to know our stand before NERFUND becomes No-fund”; “End staff victimisation, we too need change”; “Executive management just go, tenure expired since 2014. Please go,” also chanted anti-management songs.
One of the protesting staff, Joseph Ngati, said the workers were also protesting the absence of a substantive Executive Management as the status of the current one is negatively affecting loan recovery efforts.
Another staff, Odunsi Olubunmi, insisted that the lack of experience of the current management team in the area of Development Financing had jeopardised loan recovery efforts.
She said: “The acting Executive Management has prevented staff members from embarking on the recovery of loans of some projects simply because such projects were either sponsored or guaranteed by their political sponsors.
“NERFUND has no operational vehicle to support loan recovery drive. The only two available vehicles have been hijacked by the MD and ED for their personnel use instead of making them available for use for our operations.”
Reacting to the allegations, a member of the executive, Elenwor Ihua told journalists that the claims by the workers were untrue.
Ihua said: “Whatever we can address, we are going to address and the ones we can’t address, we are going to let our principals know.
“The allegations of diversion of N700m is not true. We know that when there are protest like this, people tend to come up with so many allegations. I don’t want to undermine what they have said because they are hardworking staff of NERFUND.
“However, when there are issues like this, there is need for dialogue.”
According to him, contrary to claims that the management team of the agency enjoyed huge allowances, whatever allowances currently being collected by them were approved by the Ministry of Finance.
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