Around 35 field and office workers attached to the Agriculture Extension Division (AED) staged a sit-in today at the Ministry of Agriculture headquarters on Independence Avenue, over what they have termed “unanswered grievances”.
When OBSERVER media arrived at the headquarters, workers could be seen holding placards and sitting outside the government building.
Senior Extension Officer, Olowabi Elabanjo, revealed that his workers are unable to do their work due to the limited space and poor working conditions.
“We’ve been packed in one office for over two years, including myself. I don’t even have an office to sit in and the staff has no where to do their word. And, the office staff has been closing at 12 o’clock for the past two years now. And they say that they’re fed up because they want to do the job they were employed to do,” explained Elabanjo.
He also pointed out that revenue collections at the department have dropped as a result of the reduced office hours and the poor working space allotted.
Since the department moved from the old PDO building on Market Street in May of 2018, the heavy machinery for the Division was moved to the Agriculture Development Corporation (ADC). According to Elabanjo, accessing the equipment has become quite frustrating
“We don’t have rights to our tractors anymore. We cannot control what belongs to us. We have to be begging the [Agricultural Development Corporation] to be able to use our own tractor now to go and do the services that extension is employed to do,” said Elabanjo.
He further aired his frustration over a number of other issues plaguing the extension division: “We don’t have computers . We don’t have equipment. The office we are using is above a bathroom.When the bathroom overflows, you see a lot of the sh!t water flowing on my staff. Are we supposed to tolerate that?”
The senior officer indicated that the staff had written a letter to the permanent secretary dated 26th November, 2019 highlighting a number of issues that needed to be addressed. The gave until till January 15th before subsequent action would be taken.
Elabanjo indicated that he did meet with Agriculture Minister, Dean Jonas, this morning but the minister, Elabanjo said, was not aware of such a letter.
“All the staff signed to the letter. Not me. I am just the supervisor. All the staff signed to it to show their grievance… So we’ve done what we need to do to inform them that the sit-in was going on, and nobody sees it fit to say please let us meet and let us address the issue,” the senior extension officer explained.
Elabanjo seemed rather frustrated over the minister’s lack of awareness over the two year old issue afflicting the workers.
The members of staff said that they have no plans to cease the sit-in until the issues are addressed.