By Patrick Obia
Sacked workers who have been on the streets of Calabar protesting for four days since Monday over the delisting of their names from the payroll of the Cross River State government have suspended the action to allow for a verification exercise.
This resolution was contained in a statement issued Thursday in Calabar by the state Chairman of the Niger Delta Activists Forum, Pail Ajie and the coordinator of the Aggrieved Civil Servants, Francis Agbor who led the protests.
This followed the intervention of the Governor, Benedict Ayade who claimed that he was unaware of their agitations until he saw them protesting while he was driving by.
Mr. Ayade’s convoy had gone through the Murtala Mohammed highway, one of the sites of the protests when he stopped, briefly addressed the workers claiming that he has”not been aware of their agitations and challenges” read the statement.
However, there are reports that Mr. Ayade had only stopped as a save face since his counterpart in Edo State, Godwin Obaseki was coming into town.
The release further noted that, due to the governor’s promise, the group held a six hours meeting with a team of government officials comprising of representatives from the Head of Service, Payroll office, Ministry of Finance, Labour, State Security Advisers -South and Central and the Nigerian Police Force at the instance of the permanent secretary, special services in the office of the governor, Alfred Mboto.
The group agreed to put “down their placards to give room for further negotiations but however warns that if at the end of the negotiations nothing is done, the aggrieved will not hesitate to occupy the streets once more.
Release reads in parts: “Let me very specially thank you all for your display of commitment,solidarity and love within this four days of mass unrest over the deactivation of our names from the CRS Government payroll.”
Governor Ayade had directed the delisting of about 3,000. He said their recruitment did not follow due process, a claim the aggrieved workers denied.
The Press Release…
PRESS RELEASE BY THE AGGRIEVED CIVIL SERVANTS WHOSE NAMES WERE DEACTIVATED FROM THE CROSS RIVER STATE GOVERNMENT PAYROLL AND THOSE WHO WERE EMPLOYED AND HAVE WORKED FOR A PERIOD OF TWENTY MONTHS WITHOUT SALARIES.
Good evening great comrades, gentlemen of the press.
Let me very specially thank you all for your display of commitment, solidarity and love within this four days of mass unrest over the deactivation of our names from the Cross River State Government payroll.
Recall that on the 14th of September 2020 we had issued a press statement giving the government a seven day ultimatum to activate our names on the state payroll or face mass protest.
The government’s inability to respond to our demands within the period saw us embarked on a mass protest that has lasted for four days between Monday 21st September 2020 and 24th September 2020 on the streets of calabar the Cross River State Capital.
It is therefore imperative to state here that, while on a routine peaceful match on the Murtala Mohammed Highway Calabar at about 1200hrs, the Governor’s convoy having sighted the protesters, pulled over and the Governor His Excellency Professor Ben Ayade alighted from his Range Rover AutoBiography, walked to the protesters and addressed them and promised to solve their issues by next week having not been aware of their agitations and challenges.
Consequent upon that, a text message was received by the leadership of the aggrieved civil servants and the leadership of the Niger Delta Activists Forum requesting them to attend a meeting with a team of government officials comprising representatives from the Head of Service, Payroll office, Ministry of Finance, Labour, State Security Advisers (South and Central) and the Nigerian Police Force.
The meeting held at the instance of the permanent secretary in charge of Security and special duties Governors Office Dr Alfred Mboto.
After an exhaustive deliberation that lasted for about six hours, the following resolutions were reached:
(1)That the protest be suspended to allow for further negotiations between the aggrieved civil servants and government.
(2)That the government negotiation team and the leadership of the aggrieved civil servants meet within one week from the date of this meeting to work out a possible date for a verification exercise of the affected staff subject to the approval of His Excellency.
(3)That aggrieved civil servants who would be successful at the end of the exercise would have their names activated in the state payroll with immediate effect.
(4)That all interests and concerns raised in the protest as it concern those whose names were deactivated from the payroll as well as those who had not been payroll after employment for a period of twenty months and above would be properly addressed.
Sequel to the above agreements,the aggrieved civil servants here by suspend it civil unrest for two weeks to give room for the government to come out with a favourable date and template for the verification in other to end this impasse once and for all.
The aggrieved workers further stated that if at the end of the two weeks window and nothing is done by the government, the mass protest shall resume on the 12th of October 2020 and it will be indefinite.
Gentlemen of the press, permit me to use this medium to thank God for seeing us through this very challenging moment of our agitation. To Cross Riverians and indeed Nigerians who stood by us through prayers and moral support. Our appreciation will not be complete if we fail to say a resounding thank you to all media houses for their untiring commitment in ensuring that our activities were given maximum media coverage.
Finally, we wish to appreciate the security agencies who exhibited a high level professionalism in the discharge of their duties while the protest lasted.
Thank you and God bless you all.
For the aggrieved civil servants:
Comrade Paul Ajie
State Chairman Niger Delta Activists Forum
Comrade Francis Agbor
Coordinator of the Aggrieved Civil Servants.
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