It is no longer news that Cross River State paraded the highest number of political appointees between 2015-2019 under the administration of Governor Ben Ayade.
Available records states that Ayade had over 6, 000 appointees who were drawing regular salaries from the State Government coffers even without offices, designations and job schedules. The Governor came on board with the ‘food on the table policy’, even when he knew that a paltry 10% of his aides were the ones driving his administration.
Even with the low federal allocation accrue to the State, the Governor ensured the regular payment of these salaries, a situation many analyst described as ‘cultivating the habit of laziness’ in the minds of some aides who sit at home and pray for the month to end for them to receive a credit alert.
Nevertheless, Ayade was magnanimous enough to carry this huge burden to the finishing line.
Interestingly, on April 18 2019, Ayade’s hammer fell on his appointees when his Chief Press Secretary and Media Adviser, Mr. Christian Ita, issued a release, stating that the Governor was set to reduce his cabinet, thereby directing all his Commissioners and other aides to send in their handover notes before April 26.
Sadly, this release aroused tension and panic in some quarters. At first, some Commissioners saw the release on social media as ‘fake news’, not until it was dawn on some of them that the hour to dissolve the cabinet has come.
In any Government setting, not everyone is appointed to serve, but where people are appointed to serve, they must hold offices, be given job schedule and be adequately funded.
The move by Ayade to trim the tall size of his Government is a welcome development. The period where every young man in the street referred to himself as an appointee should be eroded. This move, according to stakeholders’, will reduce unhealthy rancour amongst appointees, reduce wastage and inefficiency in governance and also restore the dignity and respect for political appointees. Also, the duplication of offices will no longer be heard of, unlike in some situations where some Special Assistants hijacked the job schedule of some Commissioners and became more politically powerful than them.
It is time for Ayade to appoint his new cabinet members based on merit, mental capacity and knowledge of those who can deliver on the job. He should not make his appointments on sympathy, relationship, family closeness and ethnic sentiment, else he will be making another round of eternal mistake.
Ayade should bring back the glory of political offices by bringing in the best hands that can design the future road map for Cross River State and her residents. Since he is cutting down the size of his cabinet, it is time for Ayade to adequately fund the Ministries, Departments, Agencies, Boards and Commissions for effective service delivery. The period where some ministry couldn’t afford to buy stationeries due to lack of impress should be a thing of the past.
It is important to retain a few who performed above average and drop those who failed woefully by wishing them well in their future endeavours.
The money that will be saved from what was used in paying some idle appointees can now be injected into paying of gratuity and pension to our senior citizens who have long retired with diverse health challenges. In other words, some funds can also be channelled towards the speedy completion of the Odukpani-Calabar dualization project which is currently ongoing to give a facelift to the only land entry into Calabar.
The proposed reduction will also help Ayade to comfortably pay the new minimum wage recently signed into law by President Buhari. This will improve civil service output in the State, promote their economic base and give them a sense of belonging in view of the high cost of food prices in the market and other services.
Cross Riverians want to see a better and functional Government in the next four years where local government election will be conducted to drive grassroot development.
We want to see MDAs interfacing with the media regularly on their activities and achievements in office. Dear Ayade, there could be no better time to correct the previous mistakes than now.
Best of LUCK in your second term.
George Odok is a Correspondent for News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) and writes from Calabar.
NOTE: Opinions expressed in this article are strictly attributable to the author, George Odok, and do not represent the opinion of CrossRiverWatch or any other organization the author works for/with.
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