From Judex Okoro, Calabar
Cross River Governor, Ben Ayade, has decried the rot in the state’s civil service and tasked the new Head of Service (HoS), Geraldine Ekanem, to fish out fugitive workers in the system.
Speaking shortly after swearing in the new HoS at the Executive Council Chambers of the governor’s office, Calabar, yesterday, Ayade lamented the level of manipulation and fraud in the service.
He said: “At this time of the state’s economy when the revenue allocation for Cross River has nosedived, I don’t envy your job.
“The total allocation for the state last month put together was in the region of N900 million and it came at a time our wage bill is about N3.16 billion.
“And for those who don’t know we have been able to sustain salaries up to date and so as HoS, one of the greatest challenges before you is to fish out fugitive workers.
“By virtues of your decent family and experience, employ that to putting into check the level of manipulation of our payroll system.
“You have my support in transfers, demotions and whatever power is vested on me is passed to you so nobody will come back to say he is being witch haunted.
“The fraud in the payroll system is huge. Today, we have a major case of about N16 billion and as we are struggling to survive that we have another of about 6.5 million dollars with ECOWAS.
“We have over 1,840 court cases inherited that warrants the state hiring lawyers, we are paying just so much. So, I need a head of service who will provide me sufficient capacity,” the governor said.
Querying the directors of personnel for not living up to their responsibilities of giving monthly personnel audit, he said: “If I walk into the ministries, I meet a fairly empty ministry but I come to the nominal roll, I will see a massive wage bill.
“Each time I attempt to do an audit and reduce the payroll, petitions will come in that I was sick and by the time all of them come back, we end up having more names on the payroll,” the governor said.
He said the monthly pension in the state has increased by N400 million from the time he assumed office, wondering why increase in wages bill and calls for a thorough investigation.
On her part, Ekanem pledged to leave a positive mark in the service and give her best to the best of her abilities.
Earlier, Secretary to the State Government, Tina Agbor, said governor’s appointment of women into key positions demonstrates his commitment to gender equity.