From Andy Esiet, Calabar
Over 1,000 Civil Servants in Cross River state on Wednesday morning (September 15) took to the streets protesting against the non-payment of their four years salary.
The civil servants from the 18 local government areas (LGAs) of the state barricaded all the gates leading to the State’s New Secretariat along the Mural Mohammed highway with different banners and placards and one of the banners read, “ three Years without salary, who did we offend? We go to work everyday. The injustice is too much. Every labourer deserves his wages. Governor Ayade please pay us salary”.
Chanting songs like “today today if you pay us today we will come no more” , “another challenge o another challenge oo!” , the workers, men and women and some of their children sang and danced in front of the entrance to the state New Secretariat insisting that their salaries must be paid before they vacate the Secretariat protesting workers also threatened to take the protest to the governor’s office at Diamond .
Leader and spokesman for the protesting civil servants, Comrade David Iyanya, said, “We are civil servants cut across the 18 LGAs in Cross River State. We have been owed salaries for four years dating back to 2015 and 2018, it is very sad that for four years, we have stayed without salaries, yet we come to work every day.
“ The Head of Civil Service told us that we would be paid this August and we took her words as a mother only to discover that they were lies. Today, we have mothers, fathers and children here and school is resuming soon, how do we feed? For four years out of 35 years, how many years are left?”
He said they were employed since 2018 and “we have all authentic appointment letters duly signed by the government of Cross River state and we were posted to our different Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).is This present administration employed us and the head of service keeps telling us she’s going to meet with His Excellency and His Excellency as we know, has a good mind but Head of Service has blatantly refused to submit our names to His Excellency and we know His Excellency is a busy man and so he delegates people to do things.
“We are about 1700 people cut across the 18 LGAs. His Excellency released a huge sum of money for verification. We have lost three of our colleagues; two women and a man. We have lost count of those in the hospital. The children here came with their parents because they have no money to feed and so they were brought along to buy snacks for them when they go hungry, instead of leaving them at home and they are actively involved in the protest”.
Another protester, Comrade Okoi Iferi representing anothersaid, “we were employed by then Governor Liyel Imoke and in 2018/2019, our names were dropped on the payroll. In 2020, August precisely, we were called for the screening exercise which we all attended (1500 of us). Some names were omitted from the payroll and I was among but then Head of Service, Dr. Chris Ita, said it was an error and that they would correct it.
“ Since October 2020 when the salary was paid, up till date, I and my colleagues have not been paid, about 33 of us. We met the Head of Service and she said she will see the governor but up till date she has not seen the governor. As I speak to you now, my clothes are in my bag because my landlord is giving me issues and I pass the night at friends’ houses, so I feed from there”.
The Head of Service, Geraldine Akpet-Ekanem could not be reached but the Special Adviser to the governor on Media and Publicity, Mr. Christian Ita said the fresh demand by the workers and their claims was strange him.
Ita said, “I am just hearing that for the first time but if they are Local Government civil servants, do they have any business with the Head of Service? I have never been aware of such development. The one I am aware of is that of the Magistrates of which the governor addressed their matter, and civil servants that were employed under him where he said the process was not proper and they were reabsorbed”.
On the state civil servants that have not been paid their August salaries, Ita said, “ It is not about lack of money, we have a challenge. The court placed a garnished order on the salary account which is strange. The court has been prohibited from placing garnished order on salary accounts. So it is not lack of money but a court issue”.