George Odok

 No fewer than 500 science teachers in Cross River on Tuesday staged a protest to the state governor’s office to demand reinstatement into service and payment of their September and October salaries.

The teachers, who carried various placards such as; reinstate our names into payroll; we deserve better treatment as nation builders and Ayade, don’t take away our food, prevented movements in and out of the governor’s office.

Spokesperson of the group, Mr Henry Abu, a teacher in Government Girls Secondary School, Biq-qua Town, Calabar, told NAN that 500 of them were allegedly delisted from the state government payroll in September.

Abu said that the removal of their names from the payroll had caused untold hardship to families of the affected teachers in the state.

“We are out on this protest today because from our investigations, we found out that our names were removed from the payroll without due process.

“It’s been two months now and we have not been paid. We have families to feed and we have to pay our children’s and ward school fees.

“The governor promised us food on the table but as it stands now, we can’t even feed from the scrums. The governor has betrayed our confidence in him.

“We are here to ask him to reinstate us and pay us our two months salaries arrears. 500 Science Teachers in the state are affected by this sack,” he said.

Also speaking, Mr Itam Obono, a teacher with Secondary Education Board, said that the recruitment that brought them to service was done by an Indian firm, “educom” in 2015.

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Obono said that the former Governor of Cross River, Sen. Liyel Imoke, spent a lot of money in the recruitment process to ensure transparency and quality of teachers into the service.

“How can an interview that was done transparently by an Indian firm be faulted four years after. The governor has refused to tell us exactly why he has refused to pay us.

“What we are facing is an issue of fraud and conspiracy. The Special Assistant on Payroll to the Governor, Mr John Odey is not competent and we demand for his immediate sack.

“The Special Adviser claimed that they were fishing out ghost workers from payroll. If you are fishing for ghost workers, does it amount to stopping salaries of 500 teachers?

“We demand the immediate payment of our salaries before the end of today. This money is not Ayade’s money; it is money meant for salaries of civil servants and so we deserve to be paid,” he said.

In his reaction, Mr Christian Ita, the Chief Press Secretary to Gov. Ben Ayade, told NAN in a telephone interview that the governor was doing a cleansing of the state payroll in other to delete ghost workers.

“Nobody has sacked them. Government has realised that because approval was given for employment in some areas, the people in charge resorted to over employment.

“In some cases were 200 persons were approved for employment, the people saddled with the responsibility recruited 700 staff. So, nobody has been sacked.

“Those whose employments were genuine have been given letters for re-validation of their employment. This means that those that were genuinely employed are to be restored back to the payroll,” he said. (NAN)