Civil servants plan a protest vote against Gov. Udom if…
By Saviour Ekpe
Top and senior civil servants in the Akwa Ibom State civil service have vowed to vote the present government out of office since according to them, does not have their interest at heart.
They made this known after a clandestine meeting they had in Calabar, the capital of Cross River State recently. According to sources who was in attendance that confided in Century Newsfront said the essence of the meeting was to take some ‘far reaching decisions beyond boarders’ with the aim of influencing their subjects in their respective ministries, departments, agencies, boards and heads of schools in the state. Our sources who pleaded anonymity said that they cannot afford to labour while politicians hijack everything, “as a career civil servant, we work for 35 years and on retirement, we go home with peanuts while all these politicians who only work for four or three years would go home with a whopping severance benefit that covers your entire salary for 35 years”.
Asking on the choice of Calabar for the meeting, the sources said that it was for security reasons. They poured encomiums on the governor for prompt payment of workers’ salaries in the state but lamented on nonpayment of benefits accrue them, in terms of salary, we give governor Udom 100 per cent, that one is as and when due. The grouse between the government and civil servants is our entitlement. For instance, an average civil servant has three opportunities of collecting bulk sums, firstly is the first three months salary we receive in bulk after given appointment (this is a regular thing when you join civil service). Secondly is the promotion arrears we receive whenever it is due (this is always the accumulation of the increment made to our salary and they are paid in bulk also) while the third is our gratuity that we receive at the end of our service year in bulk sum. These three things are very important to us but when government is paying deaf ears to these very important part of our life earnings, it means that the government is insensitive to our welfare and we have no choice than to vote anybody who is ready and armed with political will to release our entitlements for us as and when due. Let me give you a typical example of what I am telling you here, our Primary School teacher for more than three years now have not received their promotion arrears, this was one of the top issues and indeed the grievances of primary school teachers when we met last week”.
The third matter on our deliberation was the gratuity, which a civil servant will retire, sometime for two to three years before collecting their gratuity. Are we not the ones that prepare for the payment of politicians’ entitlements, don’t we know what they receive and when, why are the same politicians cheating us, are we not human beings, buy from the same market with children in school, don’t we know how much that come in to the state covers and go out to the pocket of politicians? We cannot play the stooge any longer, enough is enough”, they queried.
Findings by Century Newsfront revealed that civil servants should not be wished away as long as voting strength in Akwa Ibom State in concerned. According to a study conducted in 2013 under the aegis of International knowledge sharing platform by the duo of David E. Ukpong, Ime N. George entitled, Socio-Cultural Perceptions and Gender Disparity in Civil Service Employment in Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria shows that the population of all the civil servants employed by Akwa Ibom State Civil Service is 13,057 of which 6070 were female while 6987 were male. Currently, civil servants in the state have grown up to about twenty thousand and are well armed with permanent voter’s card, a number adjudged too great for politicians to work with as long as elections and vote are concerned.
Further findings by Century Newsfront indicate that the actions of Akwa Ibom Civil servants may not be unconnected to the juicy promises given to them by desperate politicians who want to gain powers at all cost. Another source very close to the immediate past governor said, “look, we need to employ all available means to get back power. Don’t you know that if our ‘Eka Esit mbon’ is made the Deputy Governor, we will still be relevant in the system, so you think that those the former governor employed were for naught, we know what we are doing”?
Century Newsfront authoritatively gathered that the Akwa Ibom state government has commenced the payment of arrears of Primary School teachers beginning from Onna local government area and some local government areas that are considered to have the lowest number of teachers before considering other local government areas.