Five of the18 officers in the Akwa Ibom State public service who passed the mental capacity, analytical minds and communication skills tests recentlyconducted by the state government were Friday sworn into office as permanent secretaries.
“Please, don’t disappoint me. People say that you cannot become permanent secretary unless you know somebody but since you all came to this position on merit, let that merit speak anywhere you are, in conduct and everything and that would gladden my heart,’’ Governor Udom Emmanuel begged the appointees.
Emmanuel, who swore in the permanent secretaries at the Executive Council Chamber, Government House, Uyo, urged them to justify the confidence reposed in them through their conduct and in the discharge of their duties to the state.
Recall that in May this year, the governor appointed and swore in five permanent secretaries to boost the machinery of government.
The permanent secretaries include: Dr. Ekpenyong Okon Ekpenyong who hails from Mbo local government area was the Medical Superintendent at General Hospital, Ituk Mbang; Barrister Uduak John Eyo-Nsa, an indigene of Ikono local government area, was the Director of Public Prosecution, DPP, in the Ministry of Justice and Dr. Otuekong Alexander Ukut, who comes from Ikot Ekpene local government area, is a Chartered Accountant.
Others are: Barr. Christopher Joseph Udoh, an indigene of Etinan local government area, was acting director, Public Prosecutions in the Ministry of Justice between 2013 and 2014 and Engr. Nicholas Amos Idungafah, from Oruk Anam local government area, served as director of Works, Ministry of Science and Technology.
Emmanuel said the new appointees got the job on merit in that the process for their emergence was without sentiments, noting “The position is a career path and honestly, when you qualify, I give it to you but you must first demonstrate that you are able to act in that capacity. A Permanent Secretary is a chief operating officer of a ministry. We cannot commonise certain things for politics. It must have what it deserves of that office.”
He reteirated that the welfare of Akwa Ibom people is the priority of his administration, indicating that his government has done its best to improve the welfare of civil servants in the state employ and pointed out that it has fulfilled its obligations in payment of pensions to retired civil servants including primary school teachers and regular and timely payment of salaries even without receiving statutory allocations.
The governor noted that his administration took up payment of backlog of gratuities up to 2015 for local government staff and primary school teachers, pointing out that the issue affects the whole country, and attributed the situation to the previous management of the disengagement services while assuring that the next batch of payment would commence with availability of funds in the state.
According to him, “I am not interested in partisan politics. I am interested in the welfare of my people. The welfare of civil servants is my priority. We came here to serve our people. This is pure public service and we are serving the people whole heartedly, sincerely and selflessly.”
He added, “I have paid pensions up to date, the only section we have not fully paid is gratuities and it is a problem of the whole country and not only Akwa Ibom. Every state and even the federal government is owing gratuities and it is because of previous management of the disengagement services.”
While addressing the issue of leave allowance to the state workforce, the Governor acknowledged that, “in the private sector, leave allowance for 2017 is paid in 2018 but here, we pay in the same year and leave allowances are only paid within the third and last quarter of the year. Meanwhile, we have already paid leave grant of 2017”.
The Governor urged the people to be realistic in their criticism of the state administrstion, stressing that Akwa Ibom government is doing a lot better than other states and hoped that the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, would take over power at the centre in 2019 and reposition the economy for the betterment of the country.
Speaking to Government House correspondents shortly after the ceremony, one of the appointees, Otuekong Ukut, said he was elated that the Governor found him and his colleagues worthy to serve in the highest capacity in the public service, noting that although the selection process was rigorous, the outcome has brought him a sense of fulfilment.
Dr. Ekpenyong another appointee thanked the governor for bringing him to add value to the state public service as a permanent secretary and added, “I am ready to give all that I have, professionally and otherwise, to deliver on the oath I have taken. I promise that at whatever Ministry I’ll be deployed to, I will impact and make the Governor happy that he had chosen me as a permanent secretary”.