By Jeno Richard Odu
The Auditor General of the State Comrade John Odey has clarified the controversies surrounding the deactivation of over two thousand workers from the State Pay-roll in August 2019, saying it was more of a corrective measure of Government rather than punitive.
Speaking in an interview in his office recently in Calabar, Comrade Odey disclosed that the exercise was carried out at the request of the Governor Sen. Ben Ayade on noticing an ‘astronomic increase in the wage bill’ with the aim of validating those with genuine approval for employment adding that of the 2,500, “less than 200 had genuine approval for employment either by His Excellency the former Governor Sen. Liyel Imoke or the present Governor, Sen. Benedict Ayade”.
The Auditor-General explained that the Employment Process in the Civil Service involves “an assessment to ascertain the number of people required, a request to the Governor to approve this number, after which the employment process will commence; Advertisement, Applications, Shortlisting, Interviews, Appointment Letters then Documentation.
He added that ‘as soon as the documentation is completed and the financial implications are ascertained, another request will then be made to the Governor for the people so employed to be included in the Pay-roll”.
He lamented that rather than follow these procedures, vested interests hijacked the process resulting in a sudden and encumbering financial repercussion on the State Government.
On the issue of the 500 teachers, Comrade Odey further explained that the 500 teachers had his Excellency the former Governor Sen. Liyel Imoke’s approval for commencement of employment process which “is not an approval for employment” he maintained.
The process he stated began in 2015 and dragged on until 2016 after which the names were “surreptitiously smuggled” into the payroll without the approval of the Governor “and so they had no valid approval for employment, no approval for their names to be pay rolled”.
The Auditor-General also disclosed that a committee which was constituted to investigate the matter, noticed the short-comings but appealed in their recommendation to the Governor that “even though this people did not pass through the process, because they are Cross Riverians, His Excellency may wish to activate them into the pay roll”.
Comrade Odey commended Governor Ben Ayade for his magnanimity and compassion for heeding the recommendation(s) of the committee by giving approval for the affected persons to be pay rolled maintaining however, that it is only those who were successfully screened and validated that have been reactivated and returned to the pay roll.