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Sacked Civil Servants,  Lawyers ASUU  Threaten Industrial Unrest

By Etim Bassey


This is not the best of times  for Governor Ben Ayade of  Cross River State as over 3, 000 allegedly sacked workers have threatened to occupy Government House until they are reinstated and their two months salaries paid.
Besides, the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, CRUTECH branch is gearing up to shut down the institution if a substantive Vice Chancellor is not appointed immediately.
Investigations by CRYSTAL EXPRESS showed that in the last four months, there has been cold war raging between workers and Governor Ayade as well as between ASUU and the government.
While the affected workers cutting across the education and the health sectors are protesting their illegal delisting from the payroll since September 2016 at the behest of the governor, the ASUU members are piqued that after six months after Vice Chancellor’s tenure had expired, Ayade and the Governing Council are yet to appoint a substantive one, which is against the 2003 University Miscellaneous Act.
The protesters numbering over five hundred had first gone to the Accountant General office and locked the gate before proceeding to the Governor’s Office which is a stone throw.
The spokesperson for the teachers, Mr. Henry Abuh, said they were employed in 2016 by Governor Ben Ayade and had gone through the processes of employment, only for the Special Adviser to the Governor on Payroll, Mr. John Odey, to remove their names from the payroll, complaining that since September, they have not received any alert as they discovered that their names were removed from the state payroll.
Abuh said: “We went through painstaking processes before we were employed as science teachers and we have our confirmation letters issued to us by government.  We were surprised to discover that the SA to Ayade on payroll removed our names and since September, we have not received alert.
“The state government had embarked on the recruitment of science teachers before Senator Liyel Imoke left office and when the present governor assumed office, he also embarked on recruitment of science teachers, wondering why the government had to remove their names from the payroll.
“The state lacked science teachers and that was why both Senator Imoke and Prof. Ayade embarked on the recruitment of science teachers.  We went through very rigorous exercises and we were even given our confirmation letters. We have been working for two months now without alert while our colleagues have been paid.  We will not stop protesting until we are paid,” Abuh assured.
Also speaking on behalf of  protesting lawyers; Barr. Roselin Inameti said not less than forty of them were affected by the delisting “and this is after working for more than three years and after we had gone through the process of employment.”
She said if the government was looking for a way of fishing out ghost workers, “they know what to do and not to come and distort work and daily bread.”
She also promised that the forty Lawyers would continue to protest what she called injustice done to them, saying; “I was in Imo State when I had to apply for this job as State Counsel.  I went through a rigorous exercise before being employed.  I cannot imagine somebody saying that I am a ghost worker.  We are supposed to be in the court to defend the state but we are here protesting because somebody decided to be mischievous.”
Addressing the protesters, the Permanent Secretary in the office of State Security Adviser, Mr. Alfred Mboto while sympathizing with them, promised to take their case to the governor.
He assured them that their case would be looked into on the basis of merit, saying: “You have not been disengaged or sacked.  Everything you have raised would be looked into dispassionately.”
In an interactive session with newsmen in Calabar, the chairman, Academic Staff Union of University, ASUU, Cross River University of Technology, CRUTECH branch, Comrade Emmanuel Ettah, said the union is ready for a showdown with Governor Ben Ayade if he refuses to appoint an acting Vice Chancellor through the laid down procedure.
Comrade Ettah disclosed that the tenure of the current acting Vice Chancellor, Prof. Akin Joshua, had elapsed on Thursday, November 7, 2019, having spent six months as acting Vice Chancellor, adding that by law she cannot continue and she cannot be reappointed.
He said: “The new governing council constituted about a month ago couldn’t follow the due process of advertising and hiring a VC to fill up the vacancy due to time constraints, because by law the council needs a minimum of six weeks to advertise for the office and hire; therefore, the need for the appointment of an acting VC.
“The law stipulates that the governing council is to forward a list of five recommended names to the governor who is the visitor to the University, from which he is to appoint an acting Vice Chancellor for the school.
“But we learnt from reliable sources that the visitor wants to appoint an acting Vice Chancellor outside the list transmitted to him by the University Governing Council and that will be a breach of the 2003 University Miscellaneous Act as amended. The union feels that if that is done the autonomy of the University as entrenched in the constitution and the 2009 agreement between ASUU and the Federal Government will be eroded and that might lead to litigation.
“The union is not poised to embarrass government; the union is poised to inform government that the due process is to appoint one person among the five in the list transmitted by the governing council of the University to the Visitor,” he stated.
According to the Chairman, it will be a disservice to the University for government to think that they can sit down in the comfort of their homes and appoint anybody as VC to the school and added that as a commitment to this course the union has asked all heads of department to forward all students examination scripts to the office of the Vice Chancellor as they don’t know how far government will want to push them to.
Ettah called on Cross Riverians to rise up and defend the University from hijack, stating that the state University has been of benefit to the state as it has produced several qualified academics between 2002 to date.

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