Akpan Etukudoh Asare
A cross section of civil servants in Cross River State are lamenting over non-payment of their 18 months salaries.
Workers in the state ministry of education, specifically those in the Examinations Results Centre (ERC) told journalists that since they were converted from ad-hoc to permanent staff in the last 18 months.
They have been finding life very difficult because the state governor, Prof. Ben Ayade has refused to pay them.
The workers pleaded not to be named for fear of persecution, bemoaning that life has been very unbearable, especially those of them with children.
“We were first engaged as ad hoc staff in about, 2015 but in November 2017 we were all formally absorbed into the state civil service payrolls through formal appointment letters as permanent staff
“We have met with the commissioner for education, Mr. Godwin Ettah several times over our plight where we had appealed for payment of the backlog of our salaries.”
Reacting, the commissioner for education, Obol Godwin Etta described the education staff as those who do not have the hearts of thanks and gratitude and unreasonable.
He said that Gov Ayade has done much to grapple with the mounting challenges of the state with meagre monthly federal allocation of N2 Billion, and still strives to pay workers monthly without fail. According to him, the government is still processing regularisation of the ERC staff members.
“These people were engaged as temporary staff and their stipends paid regularly. The governor was kind enough to direct their absorption into the state workforce which process we are still in. We have done much for them.
“They are ungrateful. Even they don’t have patience any more they are free to leave.”
The affected workers insisted that, “We all have formal letters of appointment as permanent staff. We are civil servants under the state ministry of education since November 2017. We have not received salaries for 18 months.
“We are told that Governor Ayade says we are new staff and so does not want to pay us.
“We have met with the commissioner for education twice to appeal for our salaries. But he would tell us that the governor says no money; that we should be patient or we go home until when there is money then they would send for us.
“We have also been to the accountant general of the state. He, too, would tell us that the governor has not approved any salaries for us.
“We all have families. We have rents to pay. We have school fees to pay for our children. We need to eat to survive.
“When our conditions and plight became unbearable, we appealed that to the commissioner to pay us the allowance they used to give us when we were ad hoc staff. Only two months were given to us.”
The workers said it was not true that Ayade pays workers regularly and upfront, but that he uses that as political ploy to deceive the public.
“The governor only pays a cross section of civil servants. He pays only a handful the so-called upfront salary to draw attention that he is workers friendly governor.
“It is sad that there are political appointees who only sit at home and receive bank alerts without having to work like us who must come to work on a daily basis.”