Monday, 21 September 2015

NLC gives Cecilia Udoessien marching orders -Wants AK Gov’t to restructure Civil Service

-Laments lack of transparency in SSEB recruitment, bailout funds
-Threatens to protest against appointment of corrupt persons
In furtherance of the nationwide anti-corruption campaign by the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, the Akwa Ibom State Council of the body, last week asked the State Head of Service, Mrs. Cecilia Udoessien to vacate her office as her retirement was overdue.
We reliably gathered that Cecilia Udoessien’s continuous stay in office after exceeding the 35years limit stipulated by the Civil Service Law has generated serious tension within the service as workers are increasingly becoming aggrieved.

Our investigations reveal that Mrs. Udoessien, who started her career with the Cross River State Civil Service as an administrative officer in the Department of Establishments in 1979, was due for retirement in June 2014 having served for 35years.
Speaking at the campaign which held at the State Secretariat grounds, the NLC State Chairman, Comrade Etim Etim Ukpong said that it was improper for anybody to be signing the retirement letters of people who they are older than in age and in service.

“Comrades, it is a misnomer for somebody to sit in office and sign the retirement of the pupils he or she taught in the primary school. It is not fair even if I am the one. So those who are due for retirement know themselves and today, we are saying that they must go”.

Speaking to this paper, a member of the Labour union, who pleaded anonymity, disclosed that the NLC chairman was being diplomatic in his speech by not mentioning a name, saying “we all know he was referring to Cecilia Udoessien. Her case has been on the front burner. She must go”.

The state NLC boss, who doubles as the NUT state chairman, lamented that the State Civil Service has been marred by different unethical practices by persons who were saddled with the responsibility of overseeing the service, adding that NLC will continue to condemn such practices.

He further noted that the state government on its part has contributed to the current woes of the Civil Service through implementation of unfriendly policies and called on the present state government to introduce policies that will help restructure the Service for the better.

“We want the government of this state to withdraw whatever arrangement they have with any consultancy firm regarding workers’ payroll and return them to the ministries to work because that is why we have the ministries. They spend millions of Akwa Ibom money to train those who work in the ministries to be skillful enough to handle the things they must handle.

“We are saying the government should cancel that arrangement and return our payroll back to the State Ministry of Finance. For local Government workers, their payroll should be returned to the Local Government Service Commission so that those who were trained to work will have work; so that there will be career progression in our Service”.

Comrade Ukpong further accused the state government of not involving NLC in the running of the state and also taking various decisions on labour related matters without seeking the opinion of the Labour union, saying that such actions have brought the image of the union to serious disdain.

“Recently, the federal government came up with what they called bailout funds. AkwaIbom state is the only state where Labour has not been involved in the collection and management of bailout funds. Labour is not happy. I have been severally accused by even my kitchen cabinet that I was privy to the collection of bailout funds when actually I have heard nothing.

“We are here to address issues of corruption. Corruption does not end with those stealing money. It includes those who stifle the progress of their subordinates in offices; those who will not allow people get their promotion when due. It includes those who when given opportunity to make recruitments in the state, they feel only people from their village must be employed.

“The latest recruitment by the State Secondary Education Board must be brought to public scrutiny. In the past, it used to be that after recruitment, the lists are published on local government basis. We want it done that way”, warning that people who are found guilty of taking undue advantage of the recruitment exercise should be relieved of their duty and not given any further appointment.

“Let us sound it loud and clear that we will block ministries; we will block boards and offices when such persons are given appointments against our advice. We are fighting corruption and all these are corrupt practices”, he said, while calling on the workers to remain committed to the job in order for the union to have justifiable reasons to defend their rights.

Meanwhile, a solidarity message from the NLC national secretariat indicates that embezzlement, bribery, rituals and rigging of elections are some of the forms corruption in Nigeria, adding that corruption is mostly pronounced in the Nigerian political system and public sector.

It further enumerated some of the negative effects of the menace to include creating bad image for the country; preventing the provision of basic social amenities for the citizenry; closure of factory, mass retrenchment/unemployment and underdevelopment.

“Non-payment of workers’ salaries has been attributed to corrupt practices of state governors, who have gone into heavy borrowing from banks to carry out huge projects they clearly have no capacity for, and use them as a conduit pipes to siphon public funds into their personal pockets. Some used the money meant for state to campaign for re-elections.

“Unfair treatment of Nigerian workers and unrealistic minimum wage has led many workers to live in penury and suffer untold hardships as a result of no fault of theirs but simply due to corruption.

“On average, virtually all aspects of Nigeria’s infrastructure are in deplorable condition. The country is characterized by bad road networks, constant power outage, lack of security, inadequate water supply, unacceptable health facilities and declining education system, failing communication networks and unstable economic growth”.

NLC, through the message, assured that it will continue to support the current leadership of President Buhari in its fight against corruption and urged the President to recover the country’s stolen wealth while calling on all Nigerians to support the anti-corruption fight.

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