By Akanimo Sampson
Landlords and landladies in Cross River State are currently having uneasy times as their civil servant tenants are finding it increasingly difficult to pay their rents. It is not their fault though.
Governor Ben Ayade has not been paying them for almost two years now. The situation is forcing some of the house owners to contemplate evicting their tenants to be replaced by those with cash to pay.
To avert the ugly situation of compounding the menace of homelessness in Nigeria, some of the aggrieved civil servants took to the street to protest the embarrassing non-payment of salary by Governor Ayade who defected to President Muhammadu Buhari’s All Progressives Congress (APC) last week.
Some of the owed civil servants are insinuating that the governor may have ran to the APC with hope of attracting a bail out for dumping the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the party that made him.
Governor Ayade has been squandering the resources of the state on fruitless investment drive trips abroad that is yet to add value to the ailing economy of the state.
Workers engaged in different ministries, departments, and agencies are however, protesting the non payment of salaries since they were engaged in 2017 and 2018.
The protesting workers carried placards and banners demonstrating in front of the Governor’s office in Calabar while the Governor, Benedict Ayade attends a function at the Transcorp Metropolitan hotel, less than 100 meters away.
Some of the placards read; “let the wind of change make us smile, 2018 employed workers are suffering, 2018 workers were duly employed” among others.
It is not the first time they are protesting. They, alongside their colleagues numbering about 3,000 carried out a similar protest in 2020.
The protests in September 2020, where a lady slumped, led to Governor Ayade addressing them, denying knowledge of the demonstrations and directing a verification exercise which upon conclusion, only those who were employed in 2015 and 2016 and had been issued confirmation letters were added to the payroll. The Governor had told them to forfeit the backlog of salaries.
The remaining 1,800 engaged between 2017 and 2018 were not added, and their leader, David Nya said it was frustrating as they are currently assigned to different MDA’s and have been working without pay.
Two of their colleagues have died while the Head of Service in the State and several others whom they tried to reach refused to grant them audience. The kidnapping of the Nigerian Labour Congress Chairman in the State, Ben Ukpepi who has been missing for over 60 days also compounded the issue, he said.