By Magnus Effiong
Governor Bassey Otu of Cross River State has said he was determined to clear the backlog of over N24 billion outstanding gratuities owed to retired civil servants since 2014.
Speaking while swearing in new Head of Service, Dr Innocent Ebri Eteng, Wednesday, the Governor said plans have been put in place to clear the debt before the end of December.
He expressed diemay that somebody would work for 34 years, paid all the contributory pensions and leave the scene during retirement without his entitlements.
“We will not want such a situation to continue again in this state. Such a situation where those who worked for 35 years would die without their entitlements, will not continue henceforth.
” I want to assure Cross River people that before the year 2023 ends, my government will offset outstanding gratuities and pensions,” he stated.
The governor revealed that appointment of Dr Eteng as head of service was by virtue of civil service rule, and did not come with any form of political gimmicks.
He said Eteng was the most senior permanent secretary in the state civil service and was well qualified and experienced, disclosing further that most of his appointees, if not all, were round pegs in round holes, and well qualified.
“To whom much is given, much is expected. You have come in at a time when the state civil service is at precarious level; where very large number of civil servants are returning at end of year. Of course, we are looking at how to retain some of them.
“As you know, civil service is the engine room of government. We will want you to make it better and a smart one. You will follow laid down civil service procedures to reposition the service,” he told Eteng.
Responding, the new Head of Service lauded Gov Otu for his appointment,describing the Governor as “detribalised and a stickler for excellence.”
He said he would soon embark on reforms with the aim of repositioning the state civil service and that “These reforms will be in line with global best practices and civil service rules.”