The Akwa Ibom government has no longer hidden its intention to introduce contributory pension scheme to civil servants in the state, and has therefore begged the Nigeria Labour Congress to encourage the workers to accept the scheme.
Mr. Udom Emmanuel, who stated this Friday after swearing in five new permanent secretaries at the Executive Council Chambers of Government House, Uyo, expatiated that the scheme has numerous advantages including enabling civil servants retire into an economic cycle or to own their houses.
The scheme hitherto introduced by the erstwhile administration of Victor Attah hit the rock during implementation. Based on this, Godswill Akpabio administration refunded the accrued deductions to most civil servants due to their clamour that they were unfavourably disposed to the scheme.
However, NLC in the state since the inception of Udom Emanuel administration has been opposing the introduction of the scheme on the premise that the state government must refund outstanding deductions worth some billions of naira to unpaid civil servants and primary school teachers.
The Governor, however, advised the permanent secretaries to guard against greed and indiscipline in the discharge of their duties to add value to the development goals of the state administration.
He described greed and indiscipline as vices that can derail a leader, while going to work and keeping to time are parts of discipline, and urged them to be mentors with exemplary traits in their respective offices.
Emmanuel implored the new appointees to base their decisions in official matters on fairness in the overall progress of the state, to serve generations of the less privileged children without opportunities to meet aspirations, noting that their success would largely depend on wisdom.
Describing the position as an appointment and not a promotion, he said, “Please, as you have taken oath of office today, every single key decision you take, should be in the interest of an average Akwa Ibom person. Be determined to succeed, create an impact and make things change.
“Know that if you save certain money for me on WAEC fees, I promise you, trust me for that, I will use that money to buy chairs for them to sit and write the exams. That money would never be misused, not with my red pen. Whatever money you save for me in your ministry, is redeploy to other uses.”
He stated that the process that led to their apointment was transparent based on excellence and devoid of lobbying, acknowledging that there was space to accommodate only four persons in the positions but he was impressed by the performance of the fifth person who was eventually appointed.
While cautioning those with aspirations to the position against lobbying, Emmanuel said, “The position is a career path and not something to be lobbied for. Once you lobby, you are disqualified and I have said this several times, don’t send someone to lobby me for permanent secretary.
“Irrespective of gender or tribe, once you qualfy, you will be appointed but you must pass my interview. I don’t need to know your face, the only thing is that I try as much as possible to balance this appointment across the 31 local government areas. I cannot appoint all the permanent secretaries from one area. It won’t be nice, that is why I said that it is an appointment and not a promotion.”
He stated that his administration is determined to ensure the selection process remains transparent, adding, “so that people who do not have stakeholders to talk on their behalf, can also become Permanent Secretaries on merit”.
The Governor reteirated his administration’s commitment to the welfare of workers, pledging to continue in the regular and timely payment of salaries while maintaining that the next batch of gratuity payment would commence with availability of funds.
The new permanent secretaries are: Engr. Richard Bassey Ekpe, Mrs. Margaret Anietie Edem; Mr. Nsudoh Samuel Nsudoh; Mr. Mbuk Edet Inyang and Mrs. Helen Inyang Ante.
In an interview with journalists after the swearing-in ceremony, Mrs. Edem thanked God for being a beneficiary of what journalists have been advocating in being the first female journalist in the state to attain the position, saying that that it was a glory to her colleagues especially those of her gender.
Edem stated, “It, therefore, means that more doors would open to female journalists and indeed journalists in the state and beyond. So, by the grace of God, I will strive to carry my colleagues along in the discharge of my duties. I will never forget my constituency being the NUJ and NAWOJ.”
Mr. Nsudoh indicated that he felt a sense of accomplishment, having gotten to the peak of his career, expressing appreciation to God and the Governor, for the elevation and added, “it’s an appointment, it could have gone to any other person and it doesn’t mean that others were not good enough, so we thank God for everything.”y