Bayelsa Radio GM, union leaders’ face-off gets messier over alleged embezzlement

Bayelsa Radio GM, union leaders’ face-off gets messier over alleged embezzlement

By Asare Asare

There is no letting up in the lingering bad blood between the general manager of Radio Bayelsa, Mr John Idumange, and the staff union leaders ever since he publicly flogged RATTAWU union leaders early in February 2017.

He had accused the union leaders of organizing workers to go on strike against him even though he was appointed December 2016.

On their part, the union leaders have expressly called for the removal of the general manager because of his arrogance and alleged financial infidelity.

To deepen the frosty relationship, the general manager has raised the alarm over alleged disappearance of N2.5 million revenues accruing from outside broadcast of the station.

He pointedly accused the station’s accountant of embezzling the said amount.

Idumange, on assumption of duty as GM on December 6, 2016 said he was fighting corporate fraud and made series of arrest and other administrative changes that pitched the labour unions of NUJ and RATTAWU against him.

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Idumange, who withheld N1.7 million loan repayments to a commercial bank, said on Friday that he had submitted a written petition to the Bayelsa Police Command on the alleged ‘disappearance’ of the station’s accountant with the revenue.

Confirming receipt of the petition, Spokesman of Bayelsa Police command, DSP Asinim Butswat, said that the petition has been transferred to the Criminal Intelligence and Investigation Department of the Command.

In the petition, the general manager said, “The Accountant of Radio Bayelsa had connived with our client and collected  N2.5 million revenue for live coverage and outside broadcast services from Bayelsa State House of Assembly.

“Subsequently the police traced and arrested the fleeing accountant, the cashier of the station has also been arrested, but my investigation showed that the accountant acted alone.

“I have therefore called the husband to the cashier to arrange to take his wife on bail because of her children,” Idumange said.

Meanwhile, workers sympathetic to the accountant have  dismissed the petition as a ploy by the GM to cover up his tracks.

Reacting to the development, Mr Tonye Yeimoliegha, the Radio Bayelsa chapel Chairman of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) condemned the use of Police to resolve administrative issues.

Tonye frowned at a situation where the police are used to perpetuate problems instead of calming situation in accordance with established public service procedures.

According to the staff who preferred not to be mentioned, they said that the real cause of the dispute was that the accountant had tried to recover N1.7 million deductions from workers’ salaries from January 2017 till date.

The workers said that the accountant did not err by lodging the revenue with the bank that granted the facility to Radio Bayelsa staff to offset the loan.

They contended that the radio station was no longer what it used to be since assumption of duty by Idumange.  “Radio Bayelsa is almost dead.  Our studios are non-functional, take a visit to the recording studio and see things for yourself”, a union leader said.

“Since he came, the state House of Assembly has paid us three instalments amounting to about N7m but what tangible thing has he done to boost production output, which is our primary baseline of assessment.

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“Idumange boasted of increased revenue but how much has he remitted to government coffers as IGR?

“We only hope that the governor removes this man because, Radio Bayelsa has moved from bad to worse” the union leader concluded.

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