by crossriverwatch admin
Barr Harry Ezoke is currently the Commissioner representing Cross River State at the Federal Character Commission Abuja. He took over from Elder Lekam Okoi barely three months ago. Barr Ezoke in this interview with us spoke on his mandate at the Commission but importantly vowing to ensure that no Cross Riverian would be short-changed in employment in any MDA as long as he remained in the Federal Character Commission.
Within your short stay here in the Commission and having seen the record on ground, can say you are satisfied with the number of Cross Riverians employed in the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the Federal Government?
One cannot say he is satisfied considering the number of the unemployed youths of the state who daily throng into this office in search of jobs. But employment can only be to the extent of the available vacancies. My short stay here has indicated to me that unemployment rate is very high in this country. On daily basis I receive more than a hundred CVs from Cross Riverians who are seeking employment. So one cannot say given such situation that he is satisfied.
How about the percentage of employed Cross Riverians in the MDAs especially with regards to Federal Character Principles, are you impressed with the record you met?
Yes I am very impressed viz a viz other states. Cross River is not doing badly at all. The record is quite satisfactory. In some MDAs, we are said to be over represented. However, there are also MDAs in which Cross River is underrepresented. In some, grossly underrepresented and that is why we are here to correct such imbalances where they do exist.
You earlier mentioned the quantum of CVs applicants bring to your office on daily basis. Does this suggest that you employ in the Federal Character Commission?
Well that is the surprising thing I came to find here. People come to this office with CVs as if to say we employ. I have always taken it upon myself to explain to our people that we do not give employment in the Federal Character Commission. Ours is a monitoring agency. Our duty essentially is to ensure that Cross River State is not short-changed when it comes to employment or in the distribution of bureaucratic offices in the country. We make sure that where ever employment is going on that the position of Cross River is not taken by persons who are not from Cross River State. That also is why I represent Cross River State here. But as a matter of principle, I am a commissioner of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I am here to uphold the constitution of the country by ensuring that the federal character principles as enshrined in the constitution are obeyed.
You had given a brief background about where the state is over represented, underrepresented and represented. Having said this, do you have any projection or target as to where you would want the state to be by the end of your tenure?
Well, I intend to see a situation where after my tenure Cross River State would have been at par with other states. Cross River State will not be short-changed in any MDA. Cross River State will not be cheated in terms of employment into any MDA as far as the federal character is concerned. Any benefit that accrues to any state in Nigeria must also accrue to Cross River state. That is why am here.
Some say your predecessor, Elder Barr Lekam Okoi performed creditably, would you say the contrary?
Well, there are no indices available in the office to judge him. So I am not in the position to say whether he performed creditably or not. I think it is left for the people he dealt directly with to say. I mean if people say that he has performed to their satisfaction, then we should judge him from that perspective. Otherwise if people say he did not do well or was not useful to them, then you also judge him from that perspective. For now I am not in the position to judge whether he performed creditably or not. So I leave it to the people.
You told us that the Federal Character Commission is only a monitoring agency and also an enforcement agency because you must be seen to enforce compliance to the Federal Character Principles. Against this backdrop, what would be your advice to the unemployed Cross River especially those who have the notion that you can actually provide jobs for them?
Those of them who come around, I tell them that we don’t employ. I tell them to go outside and seek where there are vacancies, find out the criteria and apply if they meet the criteria; then come back to us especially if you feel that you are cheated or perceive that you will be cheated. For instance, two boys from Cross River but I will not mention their LGAs came and complained to me that they had applied to some MDA, wrote aptitude test and were invited for another interview which they attended but when it came to issuing out letters of employment, they were dropped. When I investigated and found out that they were telling the truth, I quickly followed up and personally went to these agencies to protest. They were finally given their appointment letters and are presently working.
Does it mean that you are assuring Cross Riverians who seek employment that they will not be short-changed in the process of employment in MDA?
Yes as long as they meet the criteria required and are duly qualified, they will not be short-changed. I assure them. Whatever benefit that accrues to other states must accrue to them as long as I am here.
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