By Abasiofiok Inyang
Primary school teachers of Akwa Ibom State origin who served in Cross River State but were transferred to the State in 2006 are still begging the state government for absorption 15 years after.
The tortuous journey to the fate of uncertainty they are currently facing and the resultant suffering, could only be experienced than imagine even as it can break the hearts of Pharaoh Ramses, Khufu and Tutankhamun.
The endless suffering of this well trained teachers started over 16 years ago and precisely on the 27th February, 2006 when Cross River State Government issued “Interstate Transfer” letters to 280 teaching and non-teaching staff in their employ who were non indigenes of the state.
In one of such letters with file number CR/SPEB/AKM/P 527 issued to Umo Efiok Udo with the title “Interstate Transfer Re:” signed by A O Odey, Principal Admin Officer for Executive Chairman, Cross River State Primary Education Board and addressed to “The Executive Chairman, State Primary Education Board, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State” read:
” I am directed to inform you that following the State Government directives that all non-indigenous staff in the payroll of the State Primary Education Board, Calabar should be transferred to their state of origin, the Board has approved the release of the above named teacher who is an indigene of your State on Interstate Transfer accordingly. The approval takes effect from 31st January, 2006″.
Armed with this “unfortunate letters”, Umo and other affected teachers took their fate in their hands, returned back home and approached the Akwa Ibom State Government who promised to absolved them. Despite the assurances, they waited and prayed for six years until when the administration of former Governor Goodwill Akpabio set up an interview committee to look into their plight.
In the interview committee were the then Head of Civil Service, Mrs Cecilia Udoessien who was chairman, Permanent Secretary, Akwa Ibom State Ministry of Education, Mr. Chrysantus Asuka, Permanent Secretary, State Universal Basic Education, SUBEB, Mrs. Theresa Ekon, Permanent Secretary, State Secondary Education Board, SSEB, Mr Inemesit Akabom, Permanent Secretary, Civil Service Commission, Mrs. Enobong Ukpong, and a representative from the office of Head of Service, Mr. Imo Inyang.
Following the conduct of verification and series of interviews, the affected staff were cleared but never absolved, thus, leaving them to their fate. It was however discovered that from the time they were cleared till date, only few who have connections with those in the authority have been reemployed and are in the school while others of which some have died and some bedridden without means of livelihood have left in the cold. The intelligent and very active ones with some years of service still remaining but without connection, are still living in abject poverty.
Interestingly, in 2017, after another round of screening and verification, the administration of Governor Udom Emmanuel through the Deputy Governor, Mr Moses Ekpo met with the affected staff and after listening to their plight, wrote a letter to SUBEB to consider them but the said letter was never honoured. Investigations however revealed that only ten of them who have connections have been given an appointment letters while 68 others still hope on when God will visit them.