Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State has charged the newly sworn-in Head of Service (HoS), Geraldine Ekanem, to fish out fugitive workers in the state’s civil service.
Mr Ayade gave the charge during the swearing-in ceremony of Ms Ekanem as the substantive HoS of Cross River State.
Ms Ekanem, 57, was first appointed as acting HoS on January 1.
She is the second woman to be appointed into a top position in the Cross River Government barely 24 hours after Justice Akon Ikpeme was sworn-in as the state chief judge on Monday.
While commending the new HoS for her “decency and eloquence”, Mr Ayade said her major challenge would be to effectively pilot the affairs of the state civil service in an era of dwindling finances and corruption in the system.
“Last month, the total allocation for Cross River was about N900 million and it came when our wage bill is over N3 billion and many do not know what the state goes through to sustain salary payment.
“The State has a lot of debts hanging on its neck which was inherited from the past administrations in the state.
“So, as HoS, one of the greatest challenges you will have is to fish out fugitive workers because I inherited a pension bill of N340 million per month but as at today our pension stands at about N740 million and I do not understand where the additional N400 million came from.
“You can juxtapose it against the fact that I met a civil service salary structure of about N1. 2 billion, now it has risen to about N2.1 billion,” Mr Ayade said.
“It is expected that when pension is increasing, salaries should be reducing, but to have an increase in salaries and pension when there is no commensurate recruitment from the government, calls for investigation.
“So, I implore you to use your skill as a professional civil servant and a lawyer to check the level of manipulation in the state payroll system.
“I need you to put an end to the illegal recruitment and sneaking of names into the payroll system.”
He encouraged her to be disciplined, adding that she was not picked out of emotion ”but because of her seniority, character and ability to deliver on the job”.
Ms Ekanem, in her response, said she felt honoured to be appointed as the HoS.
She said she ”was carrying out a gap analysis to find out where there are gaps in manpower in the state civil service in order to remedy the situation”.
“I will ensure that things are done properly in the service by carrying out regular visits to ministries, even those in the hinterland to fish out ghost and recalcitrant workers,” she said.
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