A top government official has disclosed recently that the appointment of teaching and non-teaching staff absorbed by the State Secondary Education Board (SSEB) has not been formalized by the state government as this remain the main reason behind them being unpaid since January 2013.
Speaking to our correspondent on why these absorbed teaching and non-teaching staff are not paid and not been made to go through biometric data capturing, an official in the Department of Establishment who spoke on condition of anonymity revealed apparent reasons that made government to maintain the position of silence on the matter. Accordingly, the source said “when officers are given approval by the government for absorption to take place, it is the Civil Service Commission and Department of Establishment that would implement such approval. But in the case of these six schools in question, the absorption was neither done by the Civil Service Commission nor Department of Establishment – the two agencies of government mandated to carry out the absorption of officers. Therefore, Department of Establishment has no record about these absorbed staff. Secondly, the former State Governor, Chief Godswill Akpabio did not give any approval for the formalization of their appointment; had he done that, then nothing could have stopped them from being paid. Thirdly, it is doubtful that six private schools that were not owned by government could have altogether employed more than 470 staff, especially when considering low population of people living in the vicinities of the said schools. Finally, absorption has to do with someone who had already been given appointment into service and, maybe, return from a break or leave. Absorption has nothing to do with fresh appointment. But concerning these absorbed staff, there are some persons whose letter of absorption only serve as their first letter of appointment. Checking their papers, one would find out that some of them were still serving in National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) as at the time of purported absorption.”
It will be recalled that the government of Chief Godswill Akpabio had mandated the State Secondary Education Board to take over six community schools as public schools in line with requests by their proprietors. These include Unity Model School, Obontong, Nsit Ibom LGA; Community Secondary School, Obio Ediene, Ikono LGA; Iwerre Community Secondary School, Ini LGA; Afaha High School, Ikot Udo Mbang, Ukanafun LGA; Ikono Anang Comprehensive Secondary High School, Etim Ekpo LGA; and Comprehensive High School, Ikpe Mbak Eyop, Obot Akara LGA. According to sources, the memo for the take-over was signed in February 2012 by Mr. Chrysantus Asuka, the then Permanent Secretary in the State Ministry of Education. Our correspondent learnt that letters of absorption from SSEB dated 10th June, 2013 signed by Inemesit Akabom, who served as Permanent Secretary at the time, were issued to 478 staff of the afore-mentioned schools which actually approved the absorption into the State Secondary Education Board with effect from January 1st, 2013. Copies were sent to the Permanent Secretary of Department of Establishment, the Accountant-General and the Auditor-General for information.
Meanwhile, a directive was issued by Gov. Akpabio’s government through the office of the Head of Civil Service for absorbed teaching and non-teaching staff to report for screening exercise at Governor’s Office Annex, Wellington Bassey Way, Uyo in February, 2015 where about 70 of them were said to have been screened out. One of the affected staff who did not want his name in prints told our correspondent that they were asked in October 2015 to open account with their respective banks and were subsequently demanded to provide their Account Number, their Sort Code, Local Education Centre (LEC), Bank Verification Number (BVN) and phone number, but till now nothing has come out of it. The source further disclosed that an operative from DSS was sent to Unity Model College, Obontong in Nsit Ibom LGA to investigate whether the absorption actually took place, and the findings proved right.