From Joe Effiong, Uyo
One of the 31 Local Government Areas in Akwa Ibom State has sued Governor Udom Emmanuel for supposedly shortchanging them in the last recruitment of 1,000 teachers for public secondary schools in the state.
Ibeno, an oil-bearing community that hosts oil major ExxonMobil, is said to have been joined in the suit by Ijaw Youths in suing the governor and state government for recruiting only six of the 278 candidates who applied for the teaching job from the Local Government Area.
The state chairman of the State Secondary School Education Board (SSEB), Dr Ekaette Ebong Okon, while confirming the development, however, explained that the recruitment exercise was not conducted to fill local government quotas but to select qualified persons to teach in public schools in the state.
‘For the recruitment of 1,000 teachers, we followed the guidelines as given by the governor. The governor was not looking for local government quota to fill or slots for anybody but he was looking for quality and qualified teachers who can help the school system in the completion agenda in the education sector,’ she said.
According to her, it was unfortunate that some local government areas felt shortchanged since according to them, many of their indigenes were not shortlisted for appointment into the state teaching service.
Presenting the statistics of the exercise from some council areas, she said Abak had 1956, Eastern Obolo 52, Eket 1,715, Esit Eket 621, Essien Udim 2511 and Etim Ekpo 1,474
Others were Etinan 1938, Ibeno 278, Ibesikpo 1835 Ibiono Ibom 2270 while Uyo local government had 4867 applicants among others
She said that Governor Udom Emmanuel, after declaring a state of emergency in the education sector which involves addressing the infrastructure deficit and recruiting more hands in public schools, had ignored some protocols to achieve its desired results.
‘And by my own understanding, when there is an emergency, you don’t follow normal protocols. Some protocols have to be broken so that you can achieve what you want.
‘The same thing happened last year 2020 with COVID-19 pandemic; the government had to divert funds from other sectors to Health because that was the immediate priority.
‘But soon after that, a lot of people were out of school and government saw the need that we should consolidate and improve on educational givings and takings.
‘On 25 November 2020, after the Board had undertaken a tour of all the secondary schools in the state, I raised a Memo to His Excellency on the state of secondary schools in the state and I was invited to the State Executive Council to present same where I asked for employment of teachers in the state public secondary schools among other requests.
‘The governor immediately constituted a six man Recruitment Committee headed by the Head of Service in the state.
‘He said an advert was placed in the state owned newspaper for recruitment of 1,000 teachers but 47,102 applicants successfully applied online at the time the portal was closed.
‘Over 47,102 candidates applied for the job across the different spectrum of interests. We have citizens from Anambra, Abia, Borno, Delta, Oyo and Rivers States, respectively.
‘After deleting the non-indigenes, multiple entries and other errors the number was reduced to 45,285 applicants while applicants with third class and pass grades of degrees were also eliminated.
‘First class of first degrees were 201, Second class Upper Division was 9041, second class Lower Division were 25,662, masters degree holders were 27 , HND distinction 401 while those with lower credits were completely knocked off.
She said the computer based test ensured on-the-spot result except for those who played pranks that never got their results on the spot.
‘There are complaints that those with first class degrees were not successful. Yes! For instance , you can’t study Communication Arts and want to teach English Language when there are graduates of English Language .They are not inter related according to technocrats who handled the interview.’
According to her, the results were finally presented to the governor who signed the list page by page and sent it back to the Head of Service who in turn handed over to the Board for letters of appointment to be issued to successful applicants.
Okon explained that deployment of those with teaching experience was a different matter entirely and was not part of the recent recruitment exercise as was wrongly speculated.
‘Therefore the total number recruited teachers is 1098 while the additional 98 was strictly on Agriculture.
‘As I’m talking to you , there is nobody in the Ministry of Education that went underground to employ anybody just to shortchange other people. The 1,000 employed have taken exams applied online , shortlisted for interview before appointment and we statistics to show,’ she said
The Head of Service, Elder Effiong Essien, confirmed that some personnel were deployed to teach in secondary schools but were not among the 1,000 teachers recruited recently.
He described such deployment as mobility of labour which according to him has become one of the procedures in the civil service.
‘There is room for mobility of labour from one department to the other in line with civil service rule,’ he said.
He denied that some staff members have been purposely redeployed to the state secondary education board as part of the recent recruitment exercise.