…Decry non-payment of salaries
A group of committed and dedicated but unemployed workforce (also known as permanent artistes) of the Akwa Ibom State Broadcasting Corporation (AKBC) have opened up on the inhuman treatment meted on them by the management of the State-owned broadcasting outfit.
The revelation came on the heels of the exposition made by the Akwa Ibom State Chapter Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Sunny James during the Workers’ Day celebration held at the Ibom Hall Grounds on Saturday, May 1, 2021.
Also READ: Oruk Anam Widow Gets Shelter after 20 years
According to the NLC Chairman, AKBC is among five government-owned corporations having a lot of people in its employ for up to 15 years without staffing them. The other four mentioned by Comrade James were: Uyo Capital City Development Authority (UCCDA), Akwa Ibom Investment Corporation (AKIICORP), Akwa Ibom State Council for Arts and Culture (AKISCAC) and the Akwa Ibom State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (AK-RUWATSAN).
“We have observed that some state-owned public corporations and agencies within the state are still involved in the obnoxious, primitive and unlawful practice of casualization”, Comrade Sunny James had told Governor Udom Emmanuel who was represented by his Chief Press Secretary at the event.
The NLC Chairman who dared the Governor to check the Outside Broadcasting (OB) Van crew to confirm his assertion, condemned the act and wondered why the AKBC and other agencies would subject fellow indigenes of the State to a slave policy for 10-15 years “as it is in the case of permanent artistes of AKBC”. He further shocked the crowd when he announced that the permanent artistes have never been paid up to N20,000 (Twenty Thousand Naira) as monthly stipend.
“If you want to do a practical test, you can call members of the AKBC who are in that van to find out how many of them are government employees. You’ll find out that most of them are permanent artistes and therefore casual staff. None of them has received up to 20,000 emoluments as salary for 15 years now”, he said.
Upon further enquiry, THE INK NEWSPAPER can authoritatively report that all permanent artistes of the AKBC have not been paid for 6 months now and counting.
“Our October 2020 stipend of 10-15 thousand was paid in April 2021 so, they would have owed us for 7 months by the end of May. A lot of us have families that look up to us everyday but what is 15,000 worth in today’s economy? Yet, they cannot pay it”, one of the pained artistes lamented.
When asked of what impact they add to the AKBC, another permanent artiste replied: “Artistes are everywhere in AKBC. We direct programmes and do graphics; some of us are in Marketing, administration, news and current affairs, programs, engineering, account, transport. We are everywhere day and night. We do most of the tasks better than many of the staff; we stand in for them when they are sick or absent. Yet, a lot of them look down us and would do anything to stand in our way of being favoured. We are treated as nothing”, the Artiste decried.
Speaking on the management’s efforts at confirming their appointment, one of the Artistes told this reporter that they have been scheduled for interviews time and again without result. “They keep raising our hopes and dashing it by asking us to bring our credentials for interview. But it never goes beyond that”.
The Permanent Artistes therefore called on the State Government to intervene in ensuring that their years of faithful service to the AKBC is not in vain.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Akwa Ibom State Council had during its congress on Friday, April 30, 2021 urged the State Government to declare a State of Emergency for recruitment into AKBC and the Akwa Ibom Newspaper Corporation (AKNC), publisher of the Pioneer Newspaper, to grow the service, following multiple retirements of staff over the years and deaths; an indication that there is enough space to accommodate the Permanent Artistes.