By Archibong Jeremiah
A consortium of consultants who signed a Memorandum of Understand with the Cross River State Ministry of Education, EDUCOM today Saturday, 7th March 2015 concluded a teacher documentation and examination exercise in Calabar the state capital for interested teachers to be recruited into the Cross River State civil service.
The exercise which is costing the state government the sum of 20 million Naira as honorarium and other allowances for the over fifty Indian expatriates that would conduct both the written and oral tests for candidates across the three senatorial districts of the state held in 3 centers simultaneously: the West African Pupils Institute, WAPI, NYSC Secondary School and Government Secondary School Atekong Drive all in Calabar.
When CrossRiverWatch visited the WAPI center, a candidate who simply gave his name as Orlando maintained that the exercise was okay but wondered why the exercise was conducted by an Indians.
Another candidate who simply gave her name as Elizabeth said, “I don’t see why it will be foreigners to conduct the exams when we have lots of qualified professional hands in the state and country. But it’s welcoming if it’s for the best, I love their standard because it will motivate people. I have been to other interviews for same job but their standard is different and will encourage others because they are stricter.”
Most of the candidates approached for interviews by our reporter turned him down for fear of the unknown but a senior staff of the Ministry who was not willing to talk to CrossRiverWatch simply said, “The consultants are here, the Ministry of Education consulted the EDUCOM. They are based in Port Harcourt. The exercise is to justify what they learnt in school”.
When our reporter requested for permission from Ministry of education officials to speak with the Indian consultants he was told that, “The person to give them the permission to talk to you is their board chairman and the person is not here. The ministry has not given me or any other person the authority to talk”.
All further attempts to talk to the Indian consultants was not successful as the one approached by our reporter who simply gave his name as Kartic, said he has no authority to talk to the press.
It will be recalled that when CrossRiverWatch on October 4, 2013 reported that the Ministry of Education has contracted an Indian company known as EDUCOM to recruit teachers for the state Ministry of Education, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Imoke, Mr. Christian Ita quickly rebutted the story and described it as ‘tissues of lies’.
A statement by the Chief Press Secretary said there was no iota of truth in the report and explained that the state government only signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Indian firm to partner with it in driving the state’s e-learning program for schools in the state.
“An MoU was signed by the state and the Indian firm to provide both digital and non-digital products and solutions for the state’s e-learning program. An MoU never requires payment.” He said.
But in a response to the rebuttal CrossRiverWatch Deputy Managing Director, Mr. Charlie Ofem had insisted that the details of the report were correct.
In a short statement, Mr. Ofem said: “According to the CPS, an MoU was signed by the state and the Indian firm to provide both digital and non-digital products and solutions for the state’s e-learning program. He further clarified that while Educom, as part of its responsibility to the state, has agreed in principle to assist with the teachers recruitment exercise, no contract has been awarded to them and as such no fee or payment has been made to the Indian firm.
“It is however curious that the CPS did not tell the public if the recruitment exercise which Educom has accepted to assist the state with is going to be done for free or how much exactly it will cost the state if it is not for free or when did Indians become Santa Clause that will come to Nigeria and particularly Cross River State and recruit teachers for free.”
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