The Director General of the National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC), Lanre Gbajabiamila, has dismissed allegations levelled against the management as “unfounded and frivolous”.
Some members of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria had during protest at the corporate headquarters of the commission alleged disappearance of N2B, maladministration, high-handedness, unfriendly policies, victimization of staff, corrupt practices and anti-worker policies, lack of staff condition of service, lack of due process in disciplinary actions, among others.
But while faulting the barrage of allegations as “vague and unjustifiable claims” in a press briefing, Mr. Gbajabiamila said it was better to clarify some of the issues “in order that the public is not misled, but be properly informed and guided as to what the real issues are.”
The full text of the speech reads below:
SPEECH BY THE DIRECTOR GENERAL, NATIONAL LOTTERY REGULATORY COMMISSION, LANRE GBAJABIAMILA ON THURSDAY 30th SEPTEMBER, 2021AT THE NLRC HEAD OFFICE, ABUJA DURING A PRESS BRIEFING ON RECENT DEVELOPMENTS IN THE COMMISSION
Gentlemen of the Press,
It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to the Commission today. As some of you may be aware, some section of the media has been awash with reports on industrial action by some members of the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria, NLRC Chapter where several unfounded and frivolous allegations were leveled against the Management and the Director General of the Commission.
The allegations include the so-called disappearance of N2B, maladministration, high-handedness, unfriendly policies, victimization of staff, corrupt practices and anti-worker policies, lack of staff condition of service, lack of due process in disciplinary actions, and a host of other vague and unjustifiable claims.
While not trying to join issues with my staff, it is important that I personally address some of these issues, in order that the public is not misled, but be properly informed and guided as to what the real issues are.
Without sounding immodest, it is on record that no previous administration in the Commission had done better on matters of staff welfare than my regime. It is also on record that no previous administration had performed better than my administration on revenue generation for the Federal Government of Nigeria. Our revenue profile has been on a steady increase, regardless of the challenges faced by the Commission while trying to perform our regulatory functions. Let it also be known that welfare of the staff remains one of my primary objectives in my service to the nation as the Director General of the National Lottery Regulatory Commission. For instance, it was until I became the DG that staff buses were provided for the staff to alleviate their transportation challenges.
Some of the key achievements of my leadership of the Commission include the following;
Restructuring of the Commission from three directorates when I came, to 5 directorates and 5 statutory Units, thereby creating more opportunities for career growth and progression for all staff
Introduction of tangible end of the year welfare packages, from mere N2,000, N3,000 etc to more befitting distribution of Rice and Oil to staff as obtains in other agencies. Management has been consistent with this since I assumed office in 2017.
My assumption of duty as the DG saw an end to the use of Business Centers in processing official documents because there were virtually no working tools. We equipped the offices with computers, printers, photocopiers, and other office equipment for ease of our work at the commission.
Similarly, there were not enough furniture at the time, but today management made sure there is adequate furniture for all staff across the offices.
Prior to assuming office, there were irregular promotions, to the extent that promotional examinations were cancelled several times, denying staff the much needed progression, but all these have been remedied as deserving staff are now being promoted to various levels without any more hitches.
To correct some administrative errors within the Commission, experts and core professionals were brought to head, some critical sections in the Commission, such as the Procurement Unit and the Legal Services Department. For instance, the huge litigation bills of the Commission have since been reduced drastically, unlike what obtained previously where the department appeared to be a cash cow for some external solicitors.
Right now the staff condition of service, which had been in the pipeline before I resumed, is being developed under my supervision, in collaboration with the staff union is at the approval stage with relevant approving authorities.
Similarly, worthy of note is that the amendment of the National Lottery Act is in progress at the national assembly where the proposal has scaled first readings at the upper and lower chambers. This amendment will improve revenue generation and staff welfare tremendously.
The Central Monitoring System (CMS), is a critical infrastructure in the Nigerian Lottery and Gaming industry. To us in the Commission, it is a game changer in our efforts towards improved revenue for Government, as well as improved overall welfare package for staff. In fact, the much touted approval for salary increase by the National Salaries Income and Wages Commission has a clause that requires the Commission to generate enough revenue before implementation. All stakeholders of the Commission have long agreed that the CMS has to be in place before the salary increase could be realized. With this in mind, and with the zeal to achieve this very important welfare mileage for the staff, the Commission under my leadership, by the special grace of God secured the inclusion of N3b in the 2021 Appropriation Act for the acquisition of the CMS. The 2021 appropriation year will see to the long expected birth of the CMS in the history of the NLRC.
As you already know, the Nigerian National Game will also be launched in the course of this year, regardless of the efforts of the enemies of the Commission and the country to sabotage these laudable efforts.
I therefore make bold to state that the Commission is on the path of progress, as envisioned by me when I took over as the DG.
Gentlemen of the Press, let me state categorically however that the reported picketing of the NLRC by the executives of the staff union is not really for the reason of some of these issues highlighted above. The apolitical and non-partisan members of staff will tell you that the DG is doing well, and will agree that the management is working tirelessly to ensure the Commission becomes better for all staff and for all Nigerians. These are the ones who genuinely appreciate the modest efforts of management in ensuring that the welfare of staff continues to improve.
The main reason for the picketing was as a result of the management implementing the directives of the Commission’s Governing Board, as obtains in public service. The Board, after due consideration of recommendations of a committee set up by the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, to investigate the allegations against two Directors of the Commission, directed management to implement the prescribed sanctions in accordance with the Public Service Rules (PSR).
A petition against the former Directors of Monitoring and Enforcement, and Human Resources Management, Mr. Okechukwu Josiah Odunna and Mr. Robert Blessing Bolokor respectively had accused them of infractions on their appointment into the service, as well as discrepancies in their documentation. The allegations were investigated by the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission and the Code of Conduct Bureau, where the Directors made confessional statements, which they confirmed before the investigating committee, before the sanctions were prescribed. The investigating Committee made their recommendations and the Board was directed to implement the recommendations. The Board after due consideration in turn directed Management to implement.
I wish to state here that the Management of the Commission was never involved at any point in the process of investigation of the said Directors. As a responsible and responsive Management, we only acted in compliance with the directives of the Governing Board.
The Commission was never informed by the executives of the Staff Union about the picketing or other actions that ensued, except a Pre-action notice served by the lawyer of the ASCSN, on Friday 24th September 2021, three days before locking up the Commission’s gate. It was a surprise to staff and Management that they embarked on the course of action without following the grievances procedure. The picketing can therefore only be described as “illegality fighting back” by using a few highly ignorant and misled staff of the Commission hiding under the guise of the Staff Union Membership and paying touts, who by the way are not staff of the Commission to carry placards.
Management would like to use this medium to advice all staff of the Commission across the nation not to allow themselves to be used by disgruntled elements to achieve their personal goals of perpetrating illegality within or outside the system. Members of the Staff Union are encouraged to seek better clarifications from their leaders before following them on such self-seeking missions. The Management stands against illegality, and would not condone it in any form or guise. The Management also would not tolerate any parallel management of the Commission in any guise, whether within or outside the Commission. Staff are encouraged to go about their normal business without any fear of molestation or victimization.
Once again, I wish to assure members of staff that this administration is committed to improving on Staff welfare and will do its utmost best as permitted by law to ensure that the yearnings and aspirations of staff are met.
Gentlemen of the Press, Ladies and gentlemen, I thank you once again for your time, thank you for your attention.