By Divine Sam;-
On Monday, June 3, 2019, exactly 366 days ago, at the prestigious Banquet hall, Government House, Uyo, Elder Effiong Essien, then Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Works, was sworn into office as the New Head of Civil of Akwa Ibom State.
An epitome of humility, an embodiment of dedication, an administrator par excellence, an unassuming personality,
a man deeply rooted in the fear of God, Effiong Edem Essien, an Elder of the Lutheran Church of Nigeria, a Geologist and a true son of Afaha Atai, Ibesikpo in Ibesikpo-Asutan LGA of the State, from that day, June 3, took the bull by the horn in his new portfolio, displaying all traits, capacity and wits, deserving of his new role as the father of all Civil servants in Akwa Ibom State.
While Swearing-in Elder Effiong Essien as the new Head of Civil Service, Governor Udom Emmanuel was emphatic on merit being the key element for his appointment, reiterating that, his government will stop at nothing in promoting excellence and merit in all appointments. The Governor urged the new Head of Civil Service to uphold the tenets of excellence in service while also maintaining a good relationship between government and the Labour unions for a robust industrial harmony in the state.
Apparently, Essien, through God’s divine grace and with sterling leadership qualities and administrative acumen has carved a niche for himself as the lucky bug for Akwa Ibom State Civil Service, bringing in his tenure numerous life touching packages for Civil Servants even in this era of COVID-19 pandemic.
Soon on assumption of office and with proper taking-over from his predecessor, Mrs Ekerebong Akpan, the seemingly ban on promotion in the State Civil Service was lifted, paving way for Civil Servants to enjoy promotion arrears after stagnation for upwards of two to three years or even more in some cases. Similarly, approval was granted for the conducting of pre-examination seminars and examinations for qualified civil servants taking the Compulsory Class Examination for Admin and Professional Officers.
That Governor Udom Emmanuel now struts astride the State Civil Service as a colossus, with the fond sobriquet, “Workers-friendliest Governor”, is due to the strong and abiding commitment the Governor has towards the welfare of workers and the priority accorded to the public service, as interpreted by the Head of Civil Service, Elder Effiong Essien to Akwa Ibom workers.
Accordingly, Civil Servants in Akwa Ibom State have continued to enjoy prompt payment of salaries while retirees have continued to receive their pensions at the end of every month, the emolument, coming as the first-line charge in government funds allocation procedure.
Asked if workers salaries were to be cut in view of the downwards turn in the resources of government occasioned by the COVID-19 lockdown on the economy, Governor Udom Emmanuel had responded without a blink of the eyelids that, no cut can be made on workers’ salaries without proper and agreed on negotiations with the organized Labour Leaders. This goes a long way as added applause to the Head of Civil Service who has been able to pitch the workforce as a priority in the eyes of the Governor.
Elder Effiong Essien has manifested rare prowess in bringing to the fore matters of interest and benefits to Civil Servants, no matter the season. On May 1, during the 2020 Workers Day celebration, though without fanfare due to COVID-19 LOCKDOWN on Social gatherings, Governor Udom Emmanuel has in a state broadcast titled, “Together in Faith, We will overcome COVID-19 pandemic “, reiterated that, without Labour, nothing prospers and expressed the optimism that, “Together with Labour, lasting prosperity will be brought to the State”. The Governor used that avenue, to thank and commend Labour for the industrial harmony the state has enjoyed so far.
Under the watch of Elder Effiong Essien, Akwa Ibom workforce has enjoyed training and retraining for optimal service delivery and other notable attainments such as the introduction of automation of the payroll for seamless migration from the Integrated workers’ Payroll to the Pension Payroll on retirement and most importantly the payment of the new minimum wage approved by the Federal Government.
Worthy of mention is that while so many states in Nigeria are still at loggerheads with their employees over the new national minimum wage of N30,000, Akwa Ibom workers had long enjoyed the payment of the newly approved wage, bill effective January 2020. The payment even came with month arrears for December 2019, which was paid in the subsequent month after January.
Through the instrumentality of the Head of Civil Service, Governor Udom Emmanuel is constructing affordable houses in different housing estates across the state for the workers notably at Ikpedip Ibiono/Ikono off Uyo-Ikot Ekpene Road and at Ikot Ntuen Nsit in Nsit Ibom, opposite the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital, UUTH, handled by the Akwa Ibom Property and Investment Company, APICO and financed by the Federal Mortgage Bank. On a facility tour of the estates recently, Elder Essien had acknowledged the friendly disposition of Governor Udom Emmanuel towards workers and urged civil servants to reciprocate the magnanimous gesture of the Governor through their dedication and commitment to service.
With the safety of workers as key in the governance matrix of Akwa Ibom State Government, Elder Essien is vigorously pursuing adherence to the current 30% workforce at the workplace directives of Governor Udom Emmanuel within this period as part of measures towards the control of the spread of COVID-19. In furtherance of the safety measures for workers, on Monday, May 4, 2020, when offices were opened following the relaxed lockdown, the Head of Civil Service, Elder Effiong Essien in his commitment to the welfare and wellbeing of workers, ensured the decontamination of all government officers against COVID-19 and also distributed reusable facemasks to them.
Fully in control of the reigns of leadership of the Civil Service, and with the resolve to reposition the Service for efficiency and maximum productivity, being the engine room of the machinery of government, Elder Effiong Essien undertook a familiarization tour of all MDAs for an on-the-spot assessment of the challenges of workers with the aim of ameliorating them. And in his avowed resolve to maintain a healthy workforce to contribute to the success of the Eight Point Completion Agenda of Governor Udom Emmanuel, the Head of Civil Service, Elder Effiong Essien, constituted a Committee to reorganize and rejig the monthly keep fit exercise for workers, tagged – “Jogging To Serve Better”. Additionally, he approved health talks for workers during the jogging exercise to boost the healthy living of workers. During the December 2019 monthly jogging exercise, Elder Effiong Essien went a step further to fete workers and also presented to them with Christmas take away packages. It was a memorable event evergreen in the minds of Akwa Ibom workers.
Acknowledging that, partnership with relevant stakeholders is vital to the success of his office, Elder Essien, undertook familiarization meetings with the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, and particularly attended the State Congress of the Union as well as treated the Press to a sumptuous luncheon at the Walbridge hotel. He has not failed to hold regular meetings with the different Labour unions to cultivate harmonious industrial relations while also organizing meetings with different Cadre of workers to get acquainted with their strengths and weaknesses for improvement towards meeting set targets, timeliness, work plans and goals.
As a caring and friendly Boss of the Civil Servants, Elder Essien was among the first government officials who visited the Pioneer Newspaper auto crash victims at the Ibom Multi-specialty Hospital in December last year. The Head of Civil Service who wished the survivors a speedy recovery commiserated with the bereaved families over the loss of five-member staff of the Pioneer Newspaper. He was accompanied on the visit and by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information, Mr. Inyang Jameson, and the Chairman of the State NUJ, Comrade Amos Etuk.
So many beautiful tales have continued the trail the path of this dedicated, dutiful, hardworking, and humble Head of Civil Service. At his reception at the Emerald Event Center in the evening of his Swearing-in ceremony, Elder Effiong Essien was glowing spoken of, especially by his then immediate Boss, the Commissioner for Works, Ephraim Akparawa Inyang-Eyen, who solicited support for the newly appointed Head of Civil Service, from his colleagues in the college of Permanent Secretaries. The Head of Civil Service was strongly backed at that high brow gathering of the creme de la creme of the society and top echelon of government by his wife, Mrs. Uduak Effiong Essien.
The Head of Civil Service has remained a commendable team player, a dependable ally and a great lieutenant of Governor Udom Emmanuel who was right at the centre monitoring and supervising the distribution of palliatives to Akwa Ibom people during the lockdown where he expressed satisfaction with the well-coordinated and conducted exercise and has always made himself handy and available to serve as a proxy for the Governor when the need arises. He ably represented Governor Udom Emmanuel at the end of the 2019 Calabar Province Convention of the African Church held at Afaha Ubium in ONNA LGA.
Pertinent of note is that Akwa Ibom workers have received their May 2020 salaries complete in the new minimum wage scale, a great feat of the Head of Civil Service, Elder Effiong Essien in this era of COVID-19, especially in considering the fact that salaries of Political Appointees in the state have been slashed by 20 percent.
And so as Akwa Ibom State Head of Civil Service, Elder Effiong Essien marks his first anniversary in office today, June 3, 2020, with the catalogue of achievements on his trail, we join all right-thinking members of the public, friends, well-wishers and indeed the entire workers of Akwa Ibom State to give him a rousing ovation and present him with garlands of honour while wishing him more successes in the years ahead.
Happy one year anniversary, our amiable Head of Civil Service, Elder Effiong Essien.
Hearty Congratulations, Sir !!!
By Divine Sam;-