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New Nigerian staff cry out as company fails to pay entitlements



  • 102 members died waiting for benefits – Union
  • Situation very sad – ex-MD Ndanusa Alao
  • Management mute

The New Nigerian Newspaper, established in 1966 by the late Premier of Northern Nigeria, Sir Ahmadu Bello Sardauna of Sokoto, NNN, once stood as a beacon of journalism, known as “the mouthpiece of the Northern Region” from the 1960s to the 1990s.

The struggling newspaper was the darling of many across the country despite being owned and sponsored by the regional government. It was gathered that most of the big names in the media industry in the country passed through NNN.

Years later, the federal government took over newspaper organisations owned by regional governments and that was the beginning of the company’s unresolved challenges till date.

The workers started facing irregular salaries with dilapidated equipment, crippling internally generated revenue, among other challenges.

After years of neglect from the federal government, some northern elders, among them the 19 northern governors, who are the original owners of the company decided to mount pressure on the then President Olusegun Obasanjo to hand over the company back to them.


In 2006, the northern states assumed ownership from the federal government, but hopes of revival under regional control were dashed as the governors also failed to breathe new life into the organisation.

The northern governors made several unfulfilled promises about their plans to revive the company and also pay the workers their regular salaries and benefits.

As parts of the efforts to address the plight of NNN workers saw the intervention of Vice President Kashim Shettima, then governor of Borno State and northern governors chairman, decided to set up a committee to sell NNN properties and use the proceeds to settle outstanding workers’ entitlements and rejuvenate the company.

Some of the company’s assets across the country, including staff quarters scattered within Kaduna metropolis, FCT, Lagos and other states were said to have been bid for since 2021 and most of these assets bid and paid for.

But the committee’s failure to pay the workers’ entitlements had worsened their situation because most of these workers dedicated their prime years to the now-defunct newspaper organisation; these individuals found themselves trapped in poverty, with some even passing away without ever seeing their retirement benefits.


 Among those still alive, many battle various illnesses such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and stroke while awaiting the funds necessary to care for themselves and their families.

The healthy ones among them have already been relieved of their appointments in the company with their three months’ salaries in lieu of notice approved a year ago but nothing was given to them.

This was why penultimate week, in a bid to highlight their grievances, the former workers staged a peaceful protest, calling on the Northern Governors Forum to compel the management to honour its commitments.

Signs held by the protesters bore messages such as “Families of Deceased Workers are Hungry,” “Our families are facing untold hardship,” “Authorities concerned, please pay us,” and “NGF please pay us our entitlements.” 

Speaking during the protest, Fami Tunde, who said he was battling stroke and struggling to afford medication, said: “Most of us are suffering with poverty, unable to access necessary healthcare. We implore the NGF to fulfill their obligations.”


He explained that life has not been easy for him and some of his colleagues that worked and retired in the company as they wait for their benefits for years.

Madam Fumilayo, another retiree, echoed the same sentiment, urging swift action: “We are tired of waiting. The NGF please pay us our entitlements to support our families.”

Saidu Bello, a former union leader, recounted the promises made during the valuation of company assets, lamenting the delay in fulfillment: “This protest serves as a reminder to the northern governors to honour their word.”

Baba Abu painted a grim picture of their reality, pleading for assistance: “We cannot feed our children or pay their school fees. We urge the NGF to consider our plight.”

He said some of their friends and relations have abandoned them because they have become a burden on them.


Comrade Sule Friday Idokoa, a union leader, emphasised the urgency of the situation, saying a lot of them, their children are out of school.

“We cannot even pay their school fees. To pay house rent is very difficult. Some of us have been ejected from their rented houses. Some of us cannot access medical bills because even in the organisation, we are not in a national insurance scheme. So, we don’t have any insurance scheme. These are the conditions we are in right now,” he said.

He further appealed to the NGF to do the needful and pay their liabilities and revive the organisation.

Nicholas Dekera, also a union leader, who spoke on behalf of the former workers during the protest, issued a14-day ultimatum to the northern governors and the management to pay workers all benefits or face more protests.

Dekera said the liabilities of all the former workers amounted to N2.1 billion, adding that the workers and the families of those who died without being paid are in a dire need of these entitlements to take care of their lives.


“It may also interest you to know that 102 of our former workers died in about 10 years while waiting for these benefits, with some bedridden, some chased out of their rented apartments, whereas a good number of us can’t feed properly.

“As of today, more than 90 per cent of the properties have been sold and over N2.7 billion realised (with some of these properties fully acquired and renovation work commenced. A very good example is the popular Nagwamatse House in the heart of Kaduna city,” he said.

Management keeps mum

Attempts to reach out to the management on reasons for the delay in the payment of the protesting workers’ entitlements failed as the  Managing Director, Yusuf Musa Kontagora, did not answer calls out to him. He also did not reply to a text message sent to him.

However, Daily Trust recalls that in an interview in 2021, Kontagora said the northern governors, through the assets-selling committee, were working tirelessly to ensure that the workers get their entitlements as soon as they completed the process.   


“As we are talking, some people have already started making payments for the properties. The money generated from the sales will be used to pay the entitlements for the serving and retired workers as well as revive the company,” he said.  

NNN situation very sad – ex-MD Alao

Mr Ndanusa Alao, who served as the NNN Managing Director 15 years ago, described the situation of the company as very sad.

He described the company as great, having done good things and still having the capacity to do greater things, but it was just neglected and never funded.

“Some northern governors loved the company while some didn’t care, and no company will survive in this situation. So, it’s a tragedy.


“What really pains me is that when you talk about legacies of the old North, Sardauna NNN was one of them. Unfortunately, only a few of the governors were giving us handouts then, but companies like this are not run on handouts.

“There was a fund set up during the tail end of my tenure. They called it the Ahmadu Bello Foundation. One Alhaji Alkali and I rushed to them; we thought we could get help, but they told us it had nothing to do with NNN, but if the Sardauna Foundation will have nothing to do with any of Sardauna legacies, I’m lost.

“It’s sad, very sad, so honestly in the 15 years I left, I know so much had happened, but the only thing that remained was the fact that there was no total official commitment to the survival of the company and it had to do with the northern governors.

“They keep rotating the chairmanship, but only a few ones are committed. It’s very sad to see the way that a company goes the way it did. I heard they even sold the properties,” he said.



Source link: Daily Trust/

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