From Judex Okoro, Calabar
Organised Labour in Cross River state has protested the imposition of N25, 000 examination fee they are promoted to Permanent Secretaries.
The Labour has, therfore, demanded the sack of the Head of Service, HoS, Mrs Geraldine Akpet-Ekanem, for her insistence that directors must examination fee even after the labour leaders have advised against such action.
A few days ago, the HoS after management meeting in her office where they took a decision that examination fee has to be charged for those Directors seeking promotion to be permanent secretaries.
Sources at the office revealed that out of the 275 Directors seeking for the promotion, about 150 of them have already paid the N25,000.
The leaders of the various Unions comprising NLC,TUC and Joint Public Service Negotiating Council (NJC) had on early Monday barricaded the entrance of State Secretariat at Murtala Mohammed Highway, Calabar and carried playcards with inscriptions reading ” The HoS must go” ” HoS must refund N25,000 collected from Directors illegally” and “HoS don’t run down Cross River Civil Servants.”
Speaking to joirnalists on the issue, the Chairman,Nigeria Civil Service Union, Raymond Akan, said they have written series of letters to the Head of Service but she was bent on carrying out her directives.
According to him , about 150 have already paid the money and at the moment there are only 10 openings for permanent Secretaries as at today.
He said: “We are not happy with the mandatory N25,000 that the HoS is insisting that Directors must pay to write exams ,we are not against any form of examination ,but what we are against is the fees .
“As a matter of fact, two Directors have already been made permanent Secretaries without writing any exam,and since this adminstration came on board ,nobody has paid any fees to write exams ,why is her case different .
Also Speaking, Trade Union Congress Chairman in the state, Com. Monday Ogbodum, said the situation was an unfortunate one adding that even many of the Directors who were promoted as far back as 2016 was merely on paper as the promotion have not been implemented till date .
His words :” We are not in anyway against the examination ,it is a welcome development ,but we are worried about a lot of things , do you know that many of these Directors who were deputy’s and promoted to Directors in 2016 have not received a dime as Director’s .
“Now you are asking thesame people to pay 25,000 naira for exam,when you know that only 12 positions are available and two were filled last week on the directive of the Governor through the office of the Chairman of Civil Service Commission and now there are just 10 vacancies .
“We are against this sort of injustice ,we are against the discrepancies ,we are against the selective justice and we want everything to go back to status quo ,and the way it’s done ,”he said .
Addressing members at the at gate of the HoS, the State Chairman Joint Public Service Negotiating Council, JNC, Godwin Otei, said the discrepancy and injustice was uncalled for and mist be stopped while calling on the HoS to refund all the money she had collected .
According to him ,the governor of the state ,Prof Ben Ayade, has approved N2m already for the examination exercise and wondered why she would turn around and ask Directors to pay N25,000 again.
He added that if the HoS needed more money to conduct the exam, she should have written to the governor and not mandate Directors to pay 25,000 naira each fir the exercise .
He called on the governor Ben Ayade to intervene, stressing that they would picket the office of the HoS e everyday no matter how long it takes.
” We don’t mind picketing her office for the rest of the year and if she fails to refund the money while in office ,they would ensure that the money would be deducted from her salaries even after she is retired ,” he said .