Rumpus Over Payroll Padding In Cross River State

Mar 22, 2024 - 05:03
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Rumpus Over Payroll Padding In Cross River State

BY DOMINIC KIDZU

A rash of accusations, counter accusations, and bush-shaking grandstanding about who did and did not pad the Cross River payroll have headlined premium news coming out of the state for two weeks without end. Take a front seat, folks, and watch the rollercoaster from the edge of your seats. Hollywood is knocking at the door.

Hydra headed John Odey fired the first shot, which was suitably responded to by his ubiquitous targets, Uko Inaku, Ogbang Akwaji and Joseph Adie, all very senior state officials and close associates of former governor Ben Ayade, having been Chairman Civil Service Commission, Head of the Civil Service and Accountant General respectively.

John Odey himself was no less awesome during the dark ages, bestriding the three-fold world like a giant collosus, having corralled the three critical offices of SA-Salaries, Auditor-General, and wait for it, Chairman IRS to himself alone, all at the same time! But sudden greatness comes along with a goatskin bag of hubris. As Brutus soliloquised about his friend Caesar, "the abuse of greatness is when it disjoins remorse from power." He has sang the swan song (?) and everyone else in the room is taking the bath of the hornbill.

Iwara Iwara of Hit FM broke the water pot, Beatrice Akpala tried to pick up the broken shards, leaving everyone else in perplexity about who the real heroes and villains are in this tragic tale. And as the intriguing narratives unfolds, what is no longer in doubt is the unconventional template and blatant impunity with which our poor state was run in the last eight years. And the sickening haemorage the public patrimony endured. 

The governor has been looking for a plug on the leakage like a needle in a haystack, trying to put a disheveled state together like a feather pillow bust asunder in a gale. I hope to God that John Odey is right and forthright with his bold accusations so that he does not become like the saying among my Irruan people "Olom ntseh ji Okpor, Okpor oji Olom" which translates to something like "The devil went to kill Okpor, but now Okpor has killed the devil."

The simple enigma is that the more people retire from service, the more the wage bill grows, like a thing of magic. Are mssrs John Odey, Uko Inaku, Ogbang Akwaji and Joseph Adie responsible for the mutant growth of the payroll, or is there a more sinister, well oiled criminal conspiracy under the rocks in the seabed? Are the four 'accused' and 'accusers' mere puns on a grander chessboard of power, money, more money and greed? As Mahatma Gandhi said "The Earth has enough for everyone's needs but not for everyone's greed".

Where are the fifty-two or fifty-four thousand civil and public servants in Cross River State? Where do they stay, where do they work? This racket appears rather massive to me. Have we even scratched the surface yet, I cannot say. What is certain is that the boat has already been rocked. Heads are inevitably going to roll as well. Even entrenched denizens and crocodiles may have to swim in shallow waters because one cannot make omelettes without breaking eggs. 

The other day I heard that the Cross River House of Assembly is recovering heavy duty construction equipment belonging to the state from private persons. Then yesterday, the House upended the lease of our 100-room facility in Abuja for N6m per annum. Who knows what bizzare repossession is next. To create a new narrative, Governor Bassey Otu, it seems, has his work cut out for him. It's already one day, one story now, and the beat goes on and on and on.. ... ... 

(Dominic Kidzu writes from Calabar)