This joint statement is made by CHIEF (BARR) UTUM ETENG and CHIEF (BARR) OKOI OBONO-OBLA as an appeal to Gov Benedict Ayade of Cross River State with a view to plead with him to apply the bailout funds from the Federal Government of Nigeria strictly for the purpose for which it was given. As concerned Cross Riverians and Human Rights Activists, we wish to reiterate that, we are desirous to have in our state for once a people oriented government, a civil servant friendly government and a government responsive to the welfare of its workers and the people.
Arising from the 4 bulletins issued by the CRS NLC, it is manifestly clear that Gov Ayade has refused and or neglected to key into the dialogue already commenced by the highly respected and experienced Deputy Gov, Senior Prof Ivara Esu with the state labour to resolve alleged labour related issues which if properly and timerously handled would have prevented the current NLC strike in the state. We wish to remind Gov Ayade that, Cross River State is a civil service state, where the only means workers meet their domestic obligations is through their salaries and other benefits.
Therefore, if the state workers’ including local government staff salaries are alleged, are not paid, pensioners and retirees benefits not also paid as at when due, Gov Ayade would have no justification to subject workers pains, mental trauma and discomfort in view of the impression he created before now that out-gone Gov Liyel Imoke bequeathed to him a robust state purse before the bailout funds were contemplated. As a responsible government, Ayade has a follow-up responsibility to demonstrate to the world that he has the capacity, mental ability legal and basic moral credentials to deliver to the people democratic dividends without the people being stressed, traumatized or expose to anxiety.
The purpose for which the Federal Government gave out bailout fund is clearly open and known to all Nigerians including the Cross River State workers. The about N8 bailout sum is not free money to the states, it is part of a long term soft loan to the state to be paid back within 20years, therefore let the money not be diverted into the amorphous and indeterminate so-called signature projects or applied for the repayment of loans not so specified.
It is similarly sad that rather than use such funds to pay outstanding severance benefits to out-gone public servants, retired civil servants and pensioners, the impression created in some quarters is that part of the bailout funds have been used to pay debts to the banks. It will be absolutely wrong to do so having regards to the fact that up till this moment Gov Ayade has refused to disclose to Cross Riverians, the extent of outstanding indebtedness inherited, and having not disclosed that, it would be safe to assume that he never inherited any indebtedness from the out-gone Imoke administration.
It is scandalous that inspite of regular collection by the state of the Statutory Federal Allocation meant for the 18 local government councils in the state each month, we hear that local government staff are not paid their salaries for some months now.
As if the above was not enough, money in the hands of Gov Ayade since he became governor are known to be much, and we urge him to properly and efficiently administer the state with such funds. It will be recalled that he has arranged with the state legislature and has collected a loan of N30billion. Arising from all these heads we are positively sure that the Gov Ayade has so much of the people’s money at hand and would have no reason howsoever to deep his hands into his private pocket for funds to administer the state as sometime alleged. By all known standards, Gov Ayade is not and would never be richer than Cross River State as to give out his personal fund to run the state. should he argue otherwise, we would pursuant to the FREE OF INFORMATION ACT, apply and obtain his statement of worth as disclosed in his Code of Conduct Bureau Form to ascertain his worth before and now. We wish Ayade well and wish Cross River State and the Cross River State public and civil servants well also. We urge the workers to return to work as soon as Ayade gives the green light to sort out issues.
A STITCH IN TIME SAVES NINE.
CHIEF (BARR) UTUM ETENG CHIEF (BARR) OKOI OBONO-OBLA