Tina Ezin, Calabar
Organized Labour in Cross River State has picketed the State Secretariat over what they described as illegal N25, 000 fee demanded from Directors to write Permanent Secretary Examination.
Labour comprising the Nigeria Labour Congress, Trade Union Congress and other affiliate unions gathered this morning (Monday) at the new state secretariat that is housing the office of the Head of Service (HOS), chanting solidarity songs demanding that the N25, 000 be returned to directors that have already paid to write the promotion exam.
The said fee is said to be demanded by the office of the Head of Service headed by Mrs. Geraldine Ekanem.
The union as early as 6.15am on Monday ,August 30 had stormed the New Secretariat housing her office and others along Murutala Mohammed highway and stopped all activities from taking place as tthy put all the gates under lock and key.
The protesting union members carried placards with inscriptions such as; “HOS- stop exploiting Directors, Labour say no to N25,000 before exams for Directors! HOS must go! AYADE has murdered Perm. Secretaries Exam by approving several Perm. Secretaries without exams! Ayade don’t kill the civil service for us!”
They accused the state Governor, Senator Ben Ayade of approving the appointment of two permanent secretaries without any form of examination.
While addressing the members, State Chairman, Nigeria Civil Service Union (NCSU), Raymond Akan said they have written severally to the Head of Service to stop collecting money from Directors who are due for promotion exams, but was adamant to their request.
Akan said, “we have approached the HOS severally with letters to stop collecting money, we have done all that is necessary but she is still adamant, we are not on strike, we are only picketing her office.
“Some people have been promoted already without writing exam. We have told them that we are not afraid of exams, let them return the money and allow people write the promotion exam.”
Also speaking, the Chairman, Trade Union Council (TUC), Monday Ogbodum said the picketing was to drive their demands to the state government and to stop the Head of Service from collecting illegal money from directors to write promotion exam.
He lamented that out of 275 Directors in the state civil service; about 150 have already paid the N25, 000 fees, adding that the 2016 promotion of some of the Directors have not been implemented till date.
“I want to assure all of us that this is a collective exercise with the two labour unions in the state and joint council. She (HOS) sees us as a hungry labour but I want to charge all of you to be strong and focus on our drive. And until she returns that money, we are not leaving here.
“About 275 Directors in the state civil service, 150 have paid the N25, 000 and if you must know, most of the Directors that were promoted since 2016 are just carrying the paper, it has not been implemented to Permanent Secretaries we have 12 of space for Permanent Secretaries but only two have been appointed without exams.” TUC Chairman lamented.
On his part, the Chairman, State Joint Public Service Negotiating Council (SJNC) Godwin Otei said, “we are not fighting government; we are only asking government to do the needful. We are very disappointed that is why we are picketing this office.”
In an earlier development, the Chairman of the Civil Service Commission, Mr. Uko Inaku, in a letter with reference No CSC/S/6011/Vol 5/163 dated August 9, 2021, disassociated the state government from the N25,000 examination fee.
The letter reads, “consequently upon your request that all Directors should pay N25,000 for the conduct of examination for Directors, I have the directive of His Excellency the Governor to inform you that no approval was granted to you to collect such money from Directors for the said examination, you are therefore requested to refund any money you have collected from any Director”.
The HOS could not be reached for her comments as the time of this report.