By Patrick Obia
As the protest by civil and public servants whose names were delisted from the Cross River State government payroll by Governor Ben Ayade in mid 2019 entered day 3 on Wednesday, Mr. Ayade in what seemed a dare, announced three sets of political appointments.
About 3,000 staff were affected and despite shutting down the State secretariat for 3 days, Governor Ayade paid deaf ears and within 90 minutes, announced three set of political appointments.
The lists which as expected, threw forth names of non existent government parastatals had only one shocker, Mr. Ani Esin redeployed from the office of the Special Services as State Security Adviser (South) to a newly created agency, the Calabar South/Akpabuyo/Bakassi Development Commission as Chairman.
Mr. Henry Bassey Okoko replaced Mr. Esin while Ntol Murphy replaced Mr. Leo Inyambe as State Security Adviser (North). Mr. Inyambe is now the Chairman of the Ogoja/Yala Development Commission.
The first batch of appointments announced at about 7:15PM on Wednesday were:
1. Henry Bassey Okokon – State Security Adviser (South)
2. Ani Esin – Chairman, Cal. South/Akpabuyo/ Bakassi Devt. Commission
3. Leo Inyambe – Chairman, Ogoja / Yala Dev. Commission
4. Ntol Murphy – State Security Adviser (North)
5. Anya Jude Mombum – Executive Secretary, Ogoja Urban Devt. Authority
6. Agada Emmanuel Ofobuche – Member, Ogoja / Yala Devt. Commission
7. Gandi Yakubu Gandi – Member, Ogoja / Yala Devt. Commission
8. Stephen Ibu – Member, Ogoja / Yala Devt. Commission
9. Boniface Ugar Modey – Member, Ogoja / Yala Devt. Commission
10. Boniface Igbang – Member, Ogoja / Yala Devt. Commission
11. Michael Ugbeshe Ute – Senior Special Assistant, Ogoja/Yala Devt. Commission
12. Michael Ututu – Special Assistant, Domestic, Ogoja Governor’s Lodge.
13. Frank Akobo – Special Assistant, Homeland Security (North)
The second batch of two appointments were announced less than 10 minutes later. They are:
1. Jacob A. Ugbe- Special Assistant, Infrastructure
2. Richard Okon Otu aka D’Blues- Special Assistant, Commercial Transport Regulatory Agency
And, about 45 minutes later at about 8:15PM, the third batch was announced. They are:
1. Chief Joe Atah – Special Assistant,
Northern Developement Commission
2. Mr. Moses Agiye – Special Assistant, Cocoa
3. Mr. K. J. Ageh – Special Assistant, Mobilization
4. Mr. Clement Ugbizi – Special Assistant, Cooperative Societies
5. Mr. Felix Bepeh – Special Assistant, Environmental Protection and Sanitation
Earlier on Wednesday, some of the protesters marched to the Governor’s office but were not allowed access till Mr. Ayade departed.
Mr. Ayade claimed their recruitment did not follow due process. But, the sacked workers disagree with some displaying their employment and confirmation letters.
After several meetings, pleas and warnings, the Niger Delta Activists Forum in the State led by Paul Ajie issued a seven day ultimatum to the State to reverse the action.
And, upon its elapse, those affected took to the streets and blocked the entrance to the new Secretariat complex in Calabar which houses the offices of about half a dozen commissioners, the Head of Service, Local Government Service Commission and the Board of Internal Revenue.
“The people you are seeing here are over two thousand five hundred Civil servants who were erroneously removed from the payroll in August 2019, reasons they were trying to filter the system of ghost workers, do you know this is 13 months now they have not been able to filter the system of any ghost workers,” a protester said.
The protester continued: “They told us we were not sacked so why are they not paying us. Look at us are we ghost workers? Do we have a ghost amongst us? are we been able to feed our children for thirteen months, have we been able to pay our rent? pay our bills; economic situation in Nigeria is very hot, Garri is a cup for fifty Naria. we can not take care of our children; what have we done?
“As long as they refuse to pay us we are carrying on this protest until they pay us.
“They should kill us, we are ready to die here life is nothing. What can we get, they have not paid us for thirteen months now; what is the worst thing we can see now; we were duely employed and every process was duely followed.”
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