THISDAY awards cheques to Nigerian teachers bounce

The source, who also alleged that the management of Leaders and Company Limited, publishers of THISDAY, was deducing staff pension fund without remitting it and paying its own contribution, said the company equally engaged in taking the contributions of members of the company’s Cooperative Society deducted directly from their salary without giving same to the society

The cheques presented by a former President of the United States of America, Bill Clinton, to teachers in Nigeria during the THISDAY awards in honour of the teachers have bounced.
Impeccable sources told The Eagle Online that the cheques, presented to the teachers on February 26, 2013 at the 18th THISDAY awards in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, have been dishonoured by the banks because there has been no cash backing for it.
A source, who spoke with The Eagle Online on Wednesday after the story of the death of two staff of THISDAY who could not pay their hospital bills because the company was owing them two months salary, said the teachers have been making frantic calls to the corporate headquarters of THISDAY in Lagos State.
Those who died were Pastor Agaga Silver, a staff in the maintenance sector of the Lagos office; and the Gombe State Correspondent, Saka Ibrahim.
Ibrahim died last weekend
The source, who also alleged that the management of Leaders and Company Limited, publishers of THISDAY, was deducing staff pension fund without remitting it and paying its own contribution, said the company equally engaged in taking the contributions of members of the company’s Cooperative Society deducted directly from their salary without giving same to the society.
The source said the staff at the headquarters of the company have almost run out of excuses to give the teachers who have been persistent in calling for the release of the money given as gift to them for the awards.
The source told The Eagle Online on Wednesday that the blame for the failure of the company to meet its obligations to both staff and the teachers lies with the Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of the company, Nduka Obaigbena.
The source said: “Now, the man (Obaigbena) has not been remitting our pension funds.
“He has not only been deducting the money from our salaries, he has not also paid up his own part as stipulated by law.
“That aside, he has the penchant for clearing the company’s cooperative funds, a personal contribution amongst members of staff to enhance their welfare.
“The staff once went on strike because of that, yet, nothing has changed.
“Sadly, the THISDAY chapter of the Nigeria Union of Journalists has remained ineffective as its chairman, N. Nseobong, has remained indifferent to the situation after several failed interventions.
“Meanwhile, the big story is that all the cheques that the man issued to teachers who were honoured in Abeokuta, Ogun State during the company’s recent awards have been returned by the banks.
“Each time the old men and women went to the bank to cash their money, they were told to call the company and since then the men and women have been calling THISDAY frantically without results.
“Unknown to them, the staff speaking to them from the head office are also helpless and hit the most by management’s recklessness.
“The situation in THISDAY is pathetic.”
Another source equally told The Eagle Online that another staff of THISDAY, a woman, names withheld, also died last year because she could not afford to pay N5,000 hospital bill.
This was said to be at the height of the indebtedness of the company to the staff.
The woman, after several attempts to get her salary, was said to have locked herself in her house, with the Bible placed on her chest, and died.
Her corpse was found days later when it began oozing unpleasant odour to neighbours.
A source equally told of the neglect of the Abuja office of the seemingly thriving business concern since it was attacked by suicide bombers last year.
The source said: “Since the office of the company was bombed on April 26, 2012, things have not returned to normal again.
“Staff, especially those in the Editorial Department, now provide for virtually all that they require to work.
“And this includes internet access.
“Some use their personal modem to work for the company while others make use of commercial cyber cafes.
“The situation is that bad.”
A senior management staff of the company, who spoke with The Eagle Online, said he was not authorized to comment on the issues.
He neither denied nor confirm the development but simply said: “The issues at stake are very sensitive.
“We are being careful from this end.”