Cross River to probe 38,000 workforce increase

The Cross River State Government is set to probe how the state workforce increased from about 18,000 to the present 56,358 in eight years.

The Head of Service, Dr. Innocent Eteng, revealed this at a news conference in Calabar, the state capital, on Tuesday.

Eteng said Governor Bassey Otu was worried and had expressed concern with the high cost of paying government employees’ salaries.

He said the huge number of government employees had created a significant financial burden for the present administration, thereby making it difficult to fund other priority projects.

He said in view of this, the state government had vowed to sanitise the payroll of the workforce, which he described as “currently bloated by several infractions”.

Giving a breakdown of the 56,358 workforce, the Head of Service revealed that the State Universal Basic Education Board has 14,328 staff, while the Primary Health Care Development Agency has 2,812.

He also said that the State Civil Service had 22,526 pensioners, among others

Eteng said: “The present administration has religiously kept its promise of prompt payment of salaries and has done up-to-date, except for a few civil servants whose names could not be reconciled on the nominal roll and payroll.

“However, there is an ongoing strategic clean-up of the state payroll, driven by the office of the HoS and the Accountant General, to rid the system of any ambiguities.

“As part of measures to address this, the governor has given a directive for the permanent secretaries to submit their nominal rolls for reconciliation.”

The Head of Service disclosed that so far, only nine of the 32 Ministries, Departments and Agencies had complied with the directive, adding that more than half of the workforce would not receive their salaries in March.

Eteng appealed for support and understanding of all in the effort to clean up the payroll.

He added: “If you go to schools, you will see that we need teachers in schools, but in the payroll, we have more than enough teachers. 

“This is the situation we are addressing.”

He also said that anyone still owed salary may be due to irregularities in their record, and such person must endeavour to do the right thing by presenting his case before the office of the Head of Service.

It would be recalled that there were counter accusations among former Head of Service, Ogbang Akwaji; former Accountant General of the State, Joseph Adie; and former Auditor General, John Odey, over bloated wage bills.

Eteng said extensive verification was embarked upon as soon as he and the new Accountant General, Dr. Glory Effiong, assumed office.

He added: “In line with the state governor’s directive to nip the controversy in the bud and streamline the wage bill, my office issued a directive to the 31 MDAs to submit their nominal rolls for reconciliation.

“So far, only nine MDAs have complied and we have reconciled their names. 

“Only workers in these nine MDAs who we can attest to will receive their salaries for the month of March.

“The remaining 22, which have refused to comply, will not be paid. 

“The government has paid all salaries up till February.

“We have even paid all recognised 2,860 traditional rulers in the state for March as the government is very committed to salary payments.

“We have even begun to clear the backlog of gratuities. 

“All pensioners have been paid for March. 

“The governor directs that they must always be paid first.

“We are very stern about submission of the Nominal Roll directive. 

“Civil servants should hold their permanent secretaries responsible for non-payment of their salaries, not the state government.”

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