Dr. Chris Onyemenam, the Director-General, National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) has defended plans by the commission to lay off more than 4,000 staff “for redundancy”. Onyemenam defended the NIMC saying that the commission could not accommodate the over-bloated junior staff of the commission, hence the decision to declare them redundant. The director-general, who spoke through his Labour Adviser, Mr Ayo Olorunfemi, said the organization was one of the few offices in the country that had majority of its workforce in the junior cadre. Onyemenam said the affected staff members were inherited by NIMC from the defunct Department of National Civic Registration (DNCR) under the former Ministry of Internal Affairs now Ministry of Interior. On claims by the affected staff that they had been stagnated for 10 years on Grade level 04 and 05, the director general said that the organisation had no vacancy to promote the staff. He admitted that the management had not conducted any promotions since it took over the affairs of the organisation four years ago. “We have not conducted any promotion since we took over the management of the organisation, what we have done is upgrading of staff that have made efforts to upgrade themselves,” he said. He also said the current NIMC was being operated through a high technology system, adding that the affected staff members lacked the requisite qualification to work with the organisation. He added that the staff members had failed to improve themselves over the years to meet the requisite qualifications that would allow them to work with the commission. According to Onyemenam, 500 of the 4,029 affected staff members had been upgraded and retained by the commission. On the issue of alleged plans to deny the workers’ pension benefits, Onyemenam claimed that “pensions had been discontinued by government”. He said that the organisation had, however, adhered to sections 20 and 25 of the Labour Act in declaring the workers redundant. Redundancy is defined in section 20(3) of the Labour Act 1990 as “an involuntary and permanent loss of employment, caused by an excess of manpower. “What section 20 (1) of the Labour Act provides is that in the event of redundancy, the employer must inform the trade union or workers’ representative concerned of the reasons for and the extent of the anticipated redundancy. “That the principle of “last in, first out” shall be adopted in the discharge of the particular category of workers affected, subject to all factors of the relative merit, including skill, ability and reliability. “And that the employer shall use his best endeavors to negotiate redundancy payments to any discharged workers who are not protected by regulations made under section 20(2) of the Labour Act.” He said the management had followed all the due process required for declaring the staff members redundant. NIMC’s staff members protested against their planned sack on Wednesday. The affected staff members shut down the NIMC headquarters by barricading all the entrances and exit into the place for several hours.