By UbongAbasi Ise
Fresh trouble is looming on the horizon for Akwa Ibom State government as over 7,000 trainees and trainers who participated in Ibom Skill Development Initiative, ISDI, are making arrangements to approach the court of competent jurisdiction to seek a redress over unpaid training allowance and starter’s pack owed by the state government.
The Ibom Skill Development Initiative, which is the human capacity development project of the Akwa Ibom State government under the office of Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Skill Development Project, Rev. Dr. (Mrs.) Marjorie Abasiodiong, was flagged off in 2015, and the programme registered 5,785 trainees, 620 trainers, and 20 volunteers. The Sensor gathered that the participants were assured that upon completion of the training, all successful trainees would be empowered with starter packs to enable them have a successful business take off, and the 620 trainers were to be paid reasonable compensation per head of trainee after the programme would come to a close. But things began to go awry when the first batch consisting of 2,500 trainees graduated on 23rd February, 2017 without being empowered with starters pack as promised by the state government, while the trainers are also left uncompensated.
Crisis peaked when the SSA on Skill Development Project, Rev. Dr. (Mrs.) Marjorie Abasiodiong, said that the state government has no contract with the participants while denying any existence financial obligation by the state government towards the programme during an altercation that ensued, The Sensor gathered.
In a letter of appeal for the compensation dated 3rd June, 2017, addressed to Governor Udom Emmanuel by the Forum of Trainers/Trainees of Ibom Skill Development Initiative and copied to the Speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly as well as the Secretary to the State Government, the SSA on Skill Development had collected registration fees in the sum of N1,150 per participant; printed branded T-shirts and sold to participants at Nl,500.00 each; collected SMEDAN Registration Fees in the sum of N500.00 per participant; sold Tag/Certificate of SMEDAN Training to participants at the rate of N1,000 each; printed Certificate of Skill Training for each participant at the rate of N2,000 per participant, and charged N7,500 per participant for Sony Training. According to the letter, all the above amounts were paid into a private Zenith Bank Account with the number, 1014063265 given to the participants by the SSA on Skill Development. The letter also noted that cash were also paid directly to the governor’s aide.
Speaking with The Sensor, Ukai Christopher Udoette, who is one of the trainers and the President of Forum of Ibom Skill Trainers/Trainees Multipurpose Cooperative Society, a fall-out group from Ibom Skill Development Centre Project, said that plans are on top gears to take the matter to the court as all appeals made to the government to compensate the ISDI participants fall on deaf ears.
“After the appeals made to the state government to compensate us have proven abortive, we decided to go on protest but the police pleaded with us not to protest, instead we should approach the matter with every amount of caution in order to avoid it from being hijacked by unscrupulous elements.
“Now we are planning to go to court to seek our fundamental human right as it is wrong for the government to train and not empowering both the trainers and the trainees as they promised.
“We will claim our compensation per head and demand that trainees be given their starters pack according to dakkada philosophy of Mr. Governor,” said the group President.
Udoette reminded the Governor Udom Emmanuel of his 2019 gubernatorial ambition as the number of these aggrieved persons could be relevant to his reelection process.
“I will like to remind the Governor that the people that voted him into power in 2015 are the same people he trained in various skills across the three senatorial districts without empowering them. They are the same people that would likely vote him in 2019, and so Mr. Governor should do something to win their hearts,” he said.
When contacted on phone over the impasse, Rev. Dr. Marjorie Abasidiong, who said she was in London, told our correspondent that there was no hitch with the Ibom Skill Development Initiative as the programme came to a successful conclusion in February this year. The aide also went on to say that the weekend’s Google digital training purported to have been organized by her office is a programme sponsored by Google.