What have we done wrong to Obaseki is a question for Edo State government.
Cry of lamentation in the quarters of laid off staff from Edo State- owned College of Agriculture, Iguoriakhi, Ovia North-East Local Government Area, appears endless.
In separate accounts, governor Godwin Obaseki who carried out the lay-off exercise has not redeemed the statutory compensation.
Of all the narratives, the case of Endurance Omorodion seems pathetic.
Speaking with OpenLife Nigeria, Omorodion narrated that he was gainfully employed into the service of the College of Agriculture as a staff.
“But about four years ago, the governor came and said he wanted to revamp the school. He later sacked us on the grounds of mismanagement. We went to court in Akure and judgment was entered in our favour. We are therefore expected to be paid. But till now, the governor has not paid,” he stated.
Further, Omorodion hinted that his father who worked at the school is dead saying that “Up till this moment, Governor Obaseki has not deemed it necessary to pay us my late father’s entitlements. The question we have been asking is ‘what have we done wrong to governor Obaseki?’
Omorodion, who disclosed that he was at the Farm Management Department of the school, claimed that as an individual, he was never indicted either by the school management or any court of law.
He therefore wonders the reason the governor is withholding his financial entitlements.
“Myself and my father worked sincerely for the College. We were not indicted by any panel of inquiry or by any court. So, why holding on to my entitlement and that of my late father?” He asked.
However, a call made to the known phone number of governor Obaseki by OpenLife on Saturday afternoon for a response on the alleged outstanding of the laid off staff of College of Agriculture, was not pick.
Meanwhile, OpenLife Nigeria gathered that in 2018, governor Obaseki sacked the entire staff of the College on the grounds of poor standards with a promise to revamping the institution.
Offering reason for the closure, Obaseki said “I shut down the school to enable me invest money and bring it up to standard. I will revamp the school so that the graduates will be employable”, the governor said.
He said he was in talks with Okomu Oil Palm Company Plc, Nigerian Institute for Oil Palm Research (NIFOR) and PRESCO Plc., to join hands with his administration to revamp the school, help train students and provide them with employment.
“I will provide allowance to the 261 students in the school and send them to farms for industrial training,” he had promised.
The state government, in a letter signed by Monday Osaigbovo, the former Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, dated May 25, 2018 to all the staff, announced the termination of their appointments.
The letter titled, “Restructuring of the College of Agriculture, Iguoriakhi”, the commissioner said following the restructuring of the College and subsequent closure, government has decided to terminate their services with effect from January 31, 2018.
“You are requested to handover all government properties in your possession to the permanent secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources immediately.
“Furthermore, I am to add that in line with your terms of engagement, your cheque for January 2018, monthly salary with one month in lieu of notice is herewith attached”, he said.
As of that time, OpenLife Nigeria gathered that the over 400 staff in the nominal pay roll of the institution including the provost who were affected by the sack, decried that there was no consultation with staff of the institution on the restructuring process. They also claimed that there was no option of redeployment of staff to other ministries or institutions before the massive sack letters were issued to them.
But speaking further with OpenLife Nigeria, Omorodion queried the rationale behind a two months lieu of notice when he is entitled to more than that.
“I joined the government institution in 2007. How do you send me off with just two months lieu of notice after putting up to 10 years meritoriously in the State civil service? Where is that done? I did not collect it and almost all of us did not collect the money. The government wants to cheat us but we will not accept it,” Omorodion defended.
He added that his late father who was a Station Manager is still being owned by governor Obaseki saying that the planned shortchange by the government will not work.
“What have we done wrong? We not against whatever he wants to do in the school. He should go ahead and revamp. But he should pay us our cumulative entitlements. This is not how to reward excellent service which my father and I put into College of Agriculture, Iguoriakhi, What have they revamped?” Omorodion stressed.
From the sketches of history, the College of Agriculture, Iguoriakhi in the old Ovia Local Government Area now Ovia North-East Local Government Area
was established by the civilian administration of late Ambrose Alli in 1981.
The school, charged with the responsibility of offering Ordinary Diploma and Higher National Diploma in Agricultural Technology, Animal Science, Crop Science, Agricultural Extension and Management, was closed down at a time by the military governors and reopened by the Lucky Igbinedion administration in 2001.