From Idongesit Inyang
Aggrieved civil servants from various ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), employed by the Cross River government in 2018 who have not received salaries since their employment, have embarked on a peaceful protest in Calabar.
The protesting workers, Monday, in Calabar, demanded the state government to pay them and equally sack the special adviser to Gov Ben Ayade on payroll matters, Mr John Odey for not fighting for the good of workers.
They chanted solidarity songs and carried placards with different inscriptions such as “Over 3 years without salary, who did we offend? Yet we go to work everyday.”
Others are: “The injustice is too much, a labourer deserves his wages” “Governor Ayade, please pay us our salary.”
“Four of us have died including the one who just died last week at the teaching hospital Calabar” the coordinator of the protesters, Mr David Iyaya lamented while protesting at the state secretariat, Calabar.
According to Iyaya, they were on a peaceful protest to the office of the head of service, (HCS), and to tell the world they are suffering.
He said, “We are peaceful citizens that is why we are demonstrating peacefully. We want the world to know our suffering. Five years is not five days. Even the HCS is somewhere here, he cannot even come out to address us and I know he has nothing to tell us.”
The coordinator said,”we are here to vent our anger. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed, instead of government sticking to the MoU, they are calling for recruitment, that people should go and submit their credentials at the job placement unit.”
” We call on John Odey to be sacked; he is the SA on payroll. We expected him to mediate between us and the government as a former labour person, but the reverse is the case,” Iyaya lamented.
He added that, “we are so disappointed in him. We have lost four of our members, one just died last week at the teaching hospital.”
Reacting to the workers protest in a telephone interview, the HCS, Mr Ogbang Akwaji said the protesters are not workers as they claimed.
” Those are not my workers but they say they have appointment letters even though I have not sighted it.You should first of all have sighted it” Akwaji further stated.
The HCS explained that “the governor clearly stated that he did not give authorization. So if you have appointment letter into the service and the governor said he did not authorize then what you are holding.”
He said that “it amounts to nothing” adding that “The governor addressed them at the stadium and labour listed their matter as one of the items in the memorandum of understanding and we are on it.
“This is unnecessary but we will engage them at the appropriate time,” the HCS said.