Governor Bassey Otu of Cross River State has exclaimed that he was misled to believe that over 40 percent of the government work force had retired.
While receiving the organised labour in his office, the governor said he was shocked by the increase in the nominal roll after being briefed that population of civil servants had drastically reduced.
“When I assumed office, I was informed that so many persons had retired, but when I now looked at the payroll, I saw even more staff than last month. I was wondering if so many have retired as recorded, why we should now have such a humongous number in the payroll with an attendant huge wage bill?” the governor asked.
In a press release signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Emmanuel Ogbeche, made available to journalists Wednesday, the governor said his administration will employ the services of the Department of State Services (DSS) to audit personnel in its payroll system and produce a holistic nominal roll for both the state and local government.
He said the exercise which is to be conducted by the federal agency will help forestall all forms of irregularities noticed in the staff payroll system across board.
“We have resolved that everybody should go to the Department of State Services for verification and screening so that if your paper has some issues, from there you can go to court.
“That will be the best for us because the exercise will ensure that biometrics and other necessary screening requirements are conducted to check all forms of irregularities and abnormalities in line with relevant civil service rules and labour laws. In the end, we will know the actual staff strength of Cross River.
“Personnel audit has been a little bit of a tricky area. So, we need to put our heads together to produce a holistic payroll system, and I strongly solicit your maximum cooperation.
On the issue of employment, the governor said, “We are currently looking at the gap analysis which is why we had to suspend all forms of employment so that in the end government will only employ based on needs because with our scarce resources, we must spend judiciously.”
Earlier, the organized labour in a 21-point position paper signed by the State Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Olayi Gregory, advised the governor to reduce the cost of governance by checking unnecessary waste.
He also requested the governor to consider promotion of teachers to Grade Level 17 as it is obtainable in the federal service to boost morale of teachers.