Delayed Salary Payment In Cross River State – Facts Against Myths

0
37
Reading Time: 3 minutes

By Edem Darlington

In 1987, Nigeria’s then military Head of State, General Ibrahim Babangida announced the creation of Akwa Ibom State from present day Cross River. By that action, the Cross River State Civil Service system automatically dwindled with the exodus of Akwa Ibomites out of the Civil Service system in Cross River State.

The situation prompted the military administrator in Cross River State, Navy Captain Eben Ibim Princewill to authorize massive recruitment of about 10,000 workers into the State Civil Service workforce. A large number of that workforce will be leaving the Service later this year.

During the 2018 May Day (Workers Day) celebration at the U.J. Esuene sports stadium in Calabar, Comrade John Ushie, then state chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC in Cross River State affirmed that over 95% of the total work force within the state civil service would retire by the end of 2023. In his words

According to Ushie, “There is an urgent need to recruit staff into the civil service, because currently over 95 percent of the staff in the state civil service will be retiring in 2023; and as such, the civil service may come to a close at the end of the Ayade Administration if recruitment is not carried out promptly,”

Again, last year, during the 2023 May Day celebration at the Calabar stadium, Chairman of the Trade Union Congress, TUC in the state , Comrade Monday Ogbodum, said that 80% of Civil Servants are nearing their retirement age and should leave service later this year, 2024.

The obvious truth is that by the end of 2024, all of those employed into the State Civil Service during the 1987 exercise would have completed their mandatory 35 years in service and therefore retire. In 2023 alone, an available record shows that over 7000 Civil Servants had retired from the state Civil Service.

The pertinent question is, despite the available data, why is the Cross River State wage bill still the same, why has there not been a significant decline in the payroll system?

While most government offices in the state are empty as a result of lack of staff, the wage bill has remained the same and consistently crowded with names of people with either lack of proper identification and/or with multiple banking details.

For example, the ongoing verification exercise and payroll sanitisation revealed a particular level 6 staff within the local government system who earns a whopping N4 million monthly, while some cases have revealed names some appearing four times with the same banking details. In another revelation the team noticed the padding of over N40 million into the local government monthly wage bill as well as several other fraudulent activities dangerously draining the State government already lean resources into private pockets.

From these revelations, It is clear that there are many who do not want this exercise to see the light of the day because of their obvious merchandise. To such persons, there is bad news for them, the exercise will be successful.

They are strong allegations that such criminal activities are usually carried out in collaboration with other civil servants, politicians and even some leaders of the Labour Union.

This is the right time for all stakeholders including the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress to join hands with the state government and firmly support this exercise if they must prove their accusers wrong.

According to statistics released by the state Head of Service, so far, out of the 11,062 pensioners within the State Pension system, 1051 cases of issues with duplicated names as well as other challenges have been tracked, this is apart from those who suspiciously decided to abscond during the verification exercise.

In the Local Government Pension scheme, the verification exercise has been able to discover about 989 instances of missing files or name duplications. In the same vein, the Local Government staff payroll revealed 847 discrepancies, while the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) and the broader state payroll recorded 597 and 1,893 discrepancies, respectively.

Although the governor, in his usual magnanimity has directed the payment of January salaries, owing to the current hardship, he has however instructed that the exercise be sustained in February.

It is important to rally massive support for the state government so as to ensure the completion of this exercise. As His Excellency, governor Bassey Otu had said, monies saved from this exercise will be used to meet other basic needs staring the state right in the face, while the rest will be used to pay thousands of other young people in the state who will be drafted into the State Civil Service.

 

Edem Darlington is the Deputy Chief Press Secretary to Governor Bassey Edet Otu