An aide of the governor, Jack Essien is walking tightrope and faces a possible sack from office for reportedly saying that his boss, Governor Udom Emmanuel is running a “government of deceit”.
According to sources, the governor’s aide made the comment during a meeting of College of Personal Aides (COPA) of the Governor on Saturday 30th January, 2021.
During the meeting, while given opportunity to speak, stood up and said the present administration is a government of deceit. Immediately, he was shouted down by the Dean of governor’s aides, Elder Ufot Ebong and alongside a host of other aides of the governor.
He was asked to take back his words but he relented. This, reportedly infuriated Elder Ufot Ebong the more who retorted that he will resign his position as Dean if Jack doesn’t withdraw the “insulting comment”.
Jack later recanted his comments and apologized, saying his comments was taken the wrong way.
But that was not the last about the issue as he (Jack) posted few days later on the WhatsApp group chat of College of Personal Aides, saying his job is at stake.
In the said SOS-like message he dropped in the COOPA chat group, he said those whom he tagged “reporters” (in the COPA group) have gone ahead to report him to the governor and some powerful people in governor for a possible sack.
He begged for leniency as his job is on the line, restating that his comments during the meeting were taken out of context.
Jack was a Personal Assistant in the Godswill Akpabio administration. He was the leader of Ibibio Grand Alliance, a group which worked for the emergence of Udom Emmanuel as governor. He was also the Convener of “Special Friends of Governor Udom Emmanuel”, a group which had influential political names as members. Some of the names were Victor Antai, Rt. Hon. Isantim Kenneth Okon, Hon. Emmanuel Ekpenyong (Iraq), Monday Eyo (Murray), Nse Essien (Indo), Uwem Okoko (Hensek), Anietie Eka, Frank Archibong, Orman Esin, amongst others.
TheMail learnt on good authority from credible sources in the corridors of power that Jack Essien has been “heavily” blackmailed by some of his colleagues who have “access in the Lodge” in cohort with some other known political figures in the state.
Our sources confided with our reporter on Monday that Jack might have shot himself in the foot as he provided a window for those who don’t like him to finally nail him before the system. One of the sources further stated that he has gotten full briefing of what happened in the meeting, but what the picture the “reporters” (in Jack’s description) are painting is clearly different from what transpired in the meeting, stating that it is a “clear attempt at blackmail”.
“They have gone ahead to tell some influential people in power that Jack is an Akpabio-boy who is still loyal to the Minister and he would not hesitate to slander the governor no matter what the governor has done for him”, said the source.
Meanwhile, some of the aides who attended the COPA meeting spoke with our reporter on condition of anonymity. They said they are sympathetic to Jack’s case as he was trying to raise a valid point, though he might have been wrong in his choice of words which “blackmailers” have capitalized on to misconstrue.
The aides stated that those who shouted down Jack while he was trying to make a point were those who are enjoying the government.
“At the end of our tenure, we may end of becoming the poorest set of governor’s aides since the return of democracy in 1999. It is only in this administration that the dichotomy in the portfolios of the aides is so conspicuous. Many of those who are seen to be SAs are mere project supervisors, receiving a little over 200,000 as salary. There are other “SAs” who are receiving N100,000. The main SAs are collecting N492,000 or thereabout as salary. It is very challenging because we are having so much pressure on our shoulders owing to the influx of financial requests from our villages or members of our communities, family members, churches, party at the ward levels. If you don’t support them and now say ‘Mkpo Ibaha’, people will say you are stingy. They won’t understand what we are facing. What part of the less N250k salary will I use in helping people when the paltry sum is not even enough to help myself and my family? That is why some of my colleagues are pushing for an upgrade in their portfolios and pay.
“It is in this administration that the aides have not collected their furniture, wardrobe allowances after appointment. Those who shouted down Jack are those who are in the category of N492,000 and many of them have gotten their official cars from government. They have long legs in the system. Many of us had to take loans or save our salary before we could buy cars for ourselves. What they call take home at the end of the month cannot even take us home.
“The other day during an event at the banquet hall, the governor talked about someone whom he gave appointment but has been complaining to people that ‘Mkpo Ibaha’. The governor stated that those working in the said appointee’s office cannot remember the last time the appointee reported to work in the office. The truth is that there is no motivation to work. Most of us don’t have offices to work. Some who have offices must have had long legs in the system to be able to secure one or they probably used their personal funds to pay for an office to operate from. The governor talked about his appointees not being creative but it is a fact that we don’t get feedbacks on most of the memos and proposals sent by most of us to his office for perusal and possible approval”, one of the aides stated.
Another aide who spoke to TheMail but refused his name being mentioned said he and many of his colleagues are not even eligible to get “severance package” at the end of their tenure because of the dichotomy in portfolios. He stated that there is what is called PA1, PA2, PA3. The aide stated that only PA1 is entitled to severance allowance of about N3m while the SSAs are entitled N3.5m as severance package. The governor’s aide said at the end of their first term in office in 2019, only PA1 and SSAs received severance package while the rest of us left empty handed”, the aide stated.
It could be recalled that prior to the 2019 governorship election in the state, some aides of the governor resigned. One of the aides who resigned, Idorenyin Esikot, a lecturer in the department of Philosophy, University of Uyo said he was tired of holding government official meetings in eateries.
“I had to resign because there was no support from anywhere. Of course, you’ll need basic tools to work with. You don’t have an office. You don’t even have a chair to sit on. Apart from my salary, I have never been given a dime by the state government. And the government didn’t for one day respond to all the proposals I presented to them”, said Esikot.
Meanwhile, the concerns raised by some of the aides to the governor during the Saturday January 30th meeting of COPA may have yielded fruits as they received Imprest on February 2nd, 2021. The imprest is the first they have received since the governor assumed office for a second term. The recent COPA meeting was equally the first since the second term began in May 2019. The idea for the meeting which was mooted by SSA to Governor on Waterways and Coastal Matters, Isantim Kenneth via the group chat received overwhelming support of many of the aides. High ranking aides who have direct access to the government never bothered attending the meeting.
Elder Ufot Ebong retained his position as Dean while other aides were appointed into other positions in the exco and advisory council. Ufot Ebong’s position was under serious threat sometime in mid-2019 when the likes of Barr Andem Ndem, Sam Edoho and Imoh Emeh presented themselves as leaders of governor’s personal aides, paying courtesy calls on some well-placed government officials in the state.