The Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the United Nations in New York has paid cheques worth 1.6 million dollars as gratuity to its local staff who had served for between 30 and 40 years.
The New York Correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the 17 beneficiaries included Nigerians, Beninios, Nigeriens, Ethiopians and Senegalese. Twelve of the beneficiaries were formally handed letters of disengagement, while 5 would be re-absorbed under a contract arrangement structure to be renewed every two years.
NAN also learnt that the re-absorbed local staff would be given added responsibilities. Prof. Joy Ogwu, the Permanent Representative of Nigeria at the UN, who spoke at the occasion on Friday, noted that the Nigerian government considered staff welfare as paramount.
She described the distribution of the cheques as a "milestone in the history of the mission. "This has been a long struggle to realise and at the end we give glory to God". Ogwu expressed optimism that the development would inspire hardwork and urged the staff to do better. Amb. Usman Sarki, the Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, had earlier disclosed that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Abuja had directed the mission to adhere to the approved staff limit due to scare resources at its disposal.
"In the light of dwindling funding and increasing insurance and medical and other debilitating financial cost, Mission has had to merge jobs and reduce staff strength. "It is most unfortunate that with this development, some staff would have to be disengaged, if we are to avert serious financial embarrassment in the near future," Sarki said.
He, however, recalled that in the past, disengaged staff had been owed their gratuity for years. One of the beneficiaries, Mr Rober Vohougla from Niger, who spoke on behalf of others, commended the Nigerian government for giving them the opportunity to serve the country. Vohougla said that Nigeria was the only country that allowed other African nationals to work in its Mission. (NAN)