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Don’t eat our election money like you did

election money, Nigeria’s correctional service personnel have raised concerns over the non-payment of election allowances provided for their services during the just concluded general elections held on 25 February and 18 March 2023. The personnel claim to have used personal funds throughout the elections in anticipation that their expenses would be refunded. Despite this, the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS) has refused to pay many of its staff, leaving them outraged and feeling undervalued.

The personnel has warned their bosses not to tamper with the allowances that were appropriated for them, recalling that during the 2019 general election, such allowances never got to them, whereas their counterparts in other sister agencies in the Ministry of Interior had all received their election duty allowances. The personnel feels undervalued, having played active roles in the election duties as either election duty officials or by beefing up security in the correctional facilities across the country.

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The personnel expressed their concerns over the hesitation in the release of their allowances by NCS authorities over the 2023 elections. It is said that despite the adamant attitude of the authorities, the accounts section is presently working on payment. “Until the accounts have worked on the allowances, that’s when those involved would be paid. It’s government money, it cannot just be disbursed that way”, said James Okoh, the assistant PRO in the Cross River Command of the Service in his response to the situation.

The situation highlights the difficult realities faced by public servants in Nigeria, where delayed payment and incomplete payment of salaries are prevalent. The personnel involved have cited that their salary is the least compared to other sister agencies in the Ministry of Interior due to illegal deductions, making the payment of these allowances all the more vital.

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The NCS personnel’s frustration is not unique, as civil servants in Nigeria often face similar challenges when expecting payment, with the non-payment of salaries being a norm across local, state, and federal government agencies. This situation reflects a failure of governance in the African nation, where almost inhumane treatment of public servants—those who work tirelessly to ensure the stability of the nation, as well as the welfare of others—is being experienced. The delayed payment of election allowances is just one issue that serves as a symbol of the constant dissatisfaction with the current government in Nigeria, bringing the long-standing issue of corruption in the nation’s systems to the forefront.

The NCS personnel are appealing to the authorities to pay their allowances and not let such payments be sent to voice mail, which has been a common pattern in the past. The problem with payment delays is not only that it undermines the morale of workers but, in some cases, can create an environment of corruption through bribery and kickbacks. The Nigerian government should work to improve the current state of governance and enforcement if it wishes to optimize its potential and achieve its goals. By paying the NCS personnel and other public servants their dues, the government will increase the trust of citizens in the nation’s system and promote good governance.

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