By Jonathan Ugbal: Government House Correspondent Follow @NaijaJonathan
The Managing Director of the Cross River State Water Board Limited (CRSWBL), Dr. Godwin Igile has denied rumors that he has been indefinitely suspended by Governor Ben Ayade.
Mr. Igile told CrossRiverWatch Friday morning in an interview that he is yet to receive any communication to that effect but disclosed that the CRSWBL is being audited for utilization of funds.
“I have not received any communication of being suspended. But, I know that we have been under audit and investigations and that is on the utilization of funds,” Mr. Igile said.
There were claims that Mr. Igile had been replaced by the Executive Chairman of the State’s Universal Basic Education Board, Dr. Stephen Odey following the supply of “colored” water on Thursday which the company claimed was due to the flushing of its storage tanks and pipe network.
But, an investigation by CrossRiverWatch reveals that an internal memo signed by a deputy director in the Human Resources department on Thursday had announced that the representative of Governor Ayade which is Mr. Odey, will meet with all contract staff at the conference room of the company on Friday.
By Friday morning, this speculation was fueled by the Special Assistant to Mr. Ayade on electronic media, Beatrice Akpala who shared photographs on WhatsApp that Mr. Odey was on a rescue mission to Water Board.
“Dr. Stephen Odey on a special mission to rescue Cross River State Water Board Limited,” she wrote, adding that: “He has rescued SUBEB, He will definitely rescue Water Board without fail.”
Below is the photograph she attached with the message above…
Dr. Stephen Odey also told CrossRiverWatch after the meeting that he has not taken over from Dr. Ighile but was only on a rescue mission to ensure warer board serves the people right.
“Ighile has not been suspended and I am still the chairman of SUBEB not water board. I was only diapatched here by his excellency to work together with the MD to ensure that water board serves the people effectively. That’s the situation” he said.
But, Mr. Igile told CrossRiverWatch that following complaints of non-payment of wages to the 483 contract staff of the company, there was a protest which led to the creation of a committee headed by Mr. Odey who had called the meeting to listen to their grievances.
And, Mr. Igile blamed this on the non-payment of wages from past administrations as well as several other things.
“Some of them have been here for 5, 6, 10 years and they have not been staffed so some of them let’s say 12 years and they have not been staffed. It is not just from our administration, it is cumulative from behind and most of them were owed from the Ortec time into Techvybes time and they had mentioned that Techvubes sacked all the experienced workers and brought in new workers who did not know where the bills are distributed,” Igile said, adding that; “I was aware of this and I tried to make sure that most of them come back which some of them did and others did not because they were treated badly.”
Ortec and Techvybes were revenue collecting consultants for the company in years past. But, despite keeping mum on who exactly employed them, Mr. Igile however said that the CRSWBL is considering the retrenchment of staff to ensure it is efficient.
He averred that: “Whatever happens, with the meeting with the contract staff this morning with Dr. Odey my colleague, we will be able to make sure that we get the right size of workers that we need to supplement the civil servants and i mean the right size really so that we don’t have a bloated workforce.
“The bloated workforce has made us inefficient, so we are going to; one reduce the staff strength; two, by the grace of God to be able to pay them and three; be efficient in the supply of water in the city and across the state and four; make sure that we sharpen their skills and train them more. Five of course, we will be having interactions with them from time to time so that we can have improvements in other field of thoughts.
“We may do with 200 contract staff to add to the staff of water board. The staff of water board (who total) 241 will be checked whether they are redundant; those who are redundant will be replaced.”
However, some of the contract staff who spoke to this reporter said Mr. Igile was not telling the entire truth especially when it was alleged in the meeting that most of the contract staff were not working despite claiming that the security staff contributes the most to the large size of the contract staff.
“We are being owed between 14 and 18 months salaries by this administration and they are lying when they say we are not working,” said a contract staff whose name is being withheld in respect to editorial policies which promotes the safety of people who may suffer punitive administrative directives for providing sensitive information.
“That man (Igile) employed us as contract staff; yes some of us had worked with Ortec and Techvybes but the truth is that out of that number he is calling (483), how many do you see here today? In fact I stand to be corrected when I say that 80 percent of the people engaged are from his village, Assiga in Yakurr local government area.”
But, a source in the company told CrossRiverWatch that this may not be entirely true even though Igile did give “a certain degree of preference” to his kinsmen. The source said that Mr. Igile had told Mr. Ayade that he can generate revenue enough to pay salaries and wages since the Governor had stopped the NGN10 million monthly imprest to the CRSWBL.
And, despite blaming the consultants for some of the woes faced by the CRSWBL today, Mr. Igile said he has made a presentation to Mr. Ayade about engaging a revenue collecting consultant while the CRSWBL focuses on ensuring the efficient and sustainable supply of potable water.
We will have to look at it and see that there is a company on ground that will be responsible for revenue collection and of course, we in Water Board will produce water and make sure that it goes to the networks constantly and make sure that it goes there sustainably for 24 hours,” he said.
It will be recalled that Dr. Ighile said recently on Episode 79 of The Dialogue With Agba Jalingo on Hit 95.5 FM that complaints from the public that the Cross River State Water Board Limited was distributing dirty unhealthy water were spurious.
He reeled out his expertise, qualifications and track record in water management and warned that people should not make hasty conclusions.
Watch video of the interview on CrossRiverWatch TV