By Ike Uchechukwu – Calabar
Civil servants under local government employ in Cross River state on Wednesday barricaded various entrances of the New state secretariat along the Muritala Mohammed Highway, Calabar in protest against the non-payment of their four years salary.
The civil servants from the 18 local government areas (LGAs) of the state converged and barricaded all the gates leading to the State’s New Secretariat along the Murtala Mohammed Highway.
The protesting workers came out with different banners and placards with various inscriptions including: “Three Years without salary, who did we offend?, “We go to work every day. The injustice is too much”, “Every labourer deserves his wages. Governor Ayade please pay us salary” amongst others.
Vanguard also sighted some children as many of them (protesters) came out to protest with their kids while threatening to take the protests to the governor’s office, Calabar.
The spokesperson for the protesting civil servants, Com. David Iyanya disclosed that they have been suffering since 2015 as they were being owed since then.
His words:” 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,” Iyanya bemoaned.
Speaking further ,they were duly employed with authentic appointment letters.
“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 .
“This present administration employed us and the Head of Service keeps telling us she’s going to meet with His Excellency but from what we have gathered, we were reliably informed that she 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.
“As you can see, our children 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,” he said .
Another protester, Grace Ekwo told Vanguard that they were employed by then-Governor Liyel Imoke and in 2018/2019, their names were dropped.
“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”.
Efforts to get the Head of Service, Geraldine Akpet-Ekanem reaction proved abortive, as she could not be reached as at the time of filing this report.
When contacted, the Special Adviser to the governor Ayade on Media & Publicity, Mr Christian Ita said the fresh demand by the workers and their claims was strange him.
“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,” Ita said.