In line with our Mission Statement at Global Concord, we would continue to publish objectively on issues that affect people on various aspects of life and where we find ourselves to be subject of the printer’s devil, we do not hesitate to retract. As it were, we were investigating a certain syndicated news item with the above caption and before we could conclude, it was inadvertently published in one of our editions.
To get to the bottom of the story, Global Concord has extended her search in the direction of the Civil Service Commission, Department of Establishment, Office of the Secretary to State Government, Auditor General of the State, Accountant General, Office of the Head of Civil Service and the Ministry of Finance and came to an affirmative conclusion that there has been no time that any N180, 000.00 million Naira Fraud was reported against the Ex Surveyor General of the State and neither was he or anybody declared wanted. At the Economic Development Ministry, it was gathered that there is a difference between monies appropriated, monies approved, monies released at the funds allocation committee, the mode of release, and time of release of Government funds. Inadequate releases can always be augmented to complete projects. We hereby retract the story and hope such an error would not occur again.
In the sponsored report, it was inadvertently stated that one Surv. Emem Isang was imposed as State Surveyor General through an examination set and marked by the former Surveyor General, Mr. Okokon Essien. Our investigation however revealed that in the framework of the Civil Service, it is not possible for a principal Officer of Government like the State Surveyor General to appoint a successor. Inside sources at the office of the Secretary to State Government had it that all the applicants for the post were subjected to an interview with many members in the panel and with the candidates having only numbers identities on their test scripts and hence favouritism was ruled out. An oral interview was said to have been held as well before the choice of a new State Surveyor General was made on merit based on average ratings by all members of the panel.
A senior staff in the Department of Establishment noted that any person who goes to the press to scandalize Government after having failed to get an appointment into the Civil Service is not fit to be a Civil Servant in the first place and that the exalted position of the State Surveyor General has never been political or ethnic given the sensitive nature of that office. She lamented the quality of persons coming out of our institutions to seek high public office without understanding the rudiments and decorum of public service.
It was also revealed that the Civil Service Commission screening Committee approved by the Governor provided a level playing ground for all the applicants to prove their mettle, some of who did not even meet the mandatory years required post registration with SURCON but having waited for about ten months, were all invited for interview.
A visit to the Secretariat of the Nigerian Institution of Surveyors at 22 Utang Street was equally revealing. A visitor to that office who claimed much interaction with Surveyors decried the pull him down syndrome of Akwa Ibom people and asked a Surveyor we met there to pray that they should have back a Surveyor of the calibre of Mr. Okokon Essien who had done much to the State and Nation earning him the respect of his colleagues nationwide and by extension, respect to Akwa Ibom State Surveyors.
At the building housing the Office of the Head of Civil Service, a middle level staff from Uyo Senatorial district wandered why a vicious attack would be directed at the former State Surveyor General just because he is from Uyo. He lamented the rise of ethnic rascality in the Civil Service and wished that the perpetrators of the assault be treated like common criminals who do not deserve to be in the public Service as more than one person cannot be on a post at the same time. He added that the unemployment of certain grades of staff since the creation of AkwaIbom State in 1987 affected the status of certain technical staff in the State particularly in the hospitals, works ministry and technical departments.
A former administrative officer in the Office of the State Surveyor General who preferred to remain anonymous remarked that the former Surveyor General that he knew would not be disturbed by such calumnyas published because he had done much to train as much as 41 No. Staff in Universities, Polytechnics, Survey School Oyo, and a Regional Aerospace training School, in a bid to fill the gap he met due to a long period of non-recruitment and gradual retirements of persons transferred from the Cross River State Civil Service. He lamented that records in that Office showed that it was only in year 2000 that a set of 4 No. only of pupil Surveyors were recruited into the service since State creation and that these four would not possibly rise to the position of State Surveyor General so soon given the period of training required and the progression provided in the scheme of service. He added that subsequent recruitment’s were made at the request of the out-gone Surveyor General and he sought for and got admission for all of them, amazingly sometimes through phone calls and that he gave them further encouragement and exposure abroad. He also revealed that most of those who showed interest at becoming the State Surveyor general were only interested in coming in from the top, instead of responding to earlier adverts that were occasionally placed for middle level Surveyors to come in and learn the rudiments of the office before rising from there. He stated that upon the retirement of an incumbent, were a vacancy exits, the head of Civil Service would appoint a person to cover duties in the office pending the appointment of a substantive officer and this could have been how one Mr. Emmanuel Usoro came to act in the office.
A senior member of the Association of Private Practicing Surveyors, Akwa Ibom State remarked that examination malpractices that radiate from the larger educational system occasionally try to permeate the professional arena and when detected, have to be curtailed or stopped in public interest. He was shocked that a Pupil Surveyor’s “Log Book” story would align itself with the failure of someone trying to become a State Surveyor General and that the whole thing was disgusting because any pupil surveyor worth his name knows how to address a genuine grievance concerning his or her pupillage progress and not to resort to the type of thing he was reading in the press. Conversely, any person seeking but failed to become a State Surveyor General should not be seen to be encouraging recalcitrance and brigandage as a tool to some sort of achievement or complaint about his set back. He remarked that they are lucky to have a former Surveyor General who has a large heart and apparently not ready to have them prosecuted and /or disciplined professionally as the story of the cheating by these pupils and their sponsors are well known to Surveyors. For example he queried, “how can a pupil surveyor disregard guidance given him to make a false presentation that the Abak to Ikot Ekpene dualised road was constructed through the NDDC in year 2012 and that he was the Surveyor in charge, and then expect his log books to be endorsed by someone who by himself would risk a professional sanction?“This was a lie. That road was built through the State Government by Julius Berger and commissioned in year 2010.He affirmed that in the Survey profession that he belongs and indeed all other professions, character and intellect go hand in hand and are so prescribed in the code of ethics.
A member of the young Surveyors forum stated that in year 2000, he had applied to become a pupil Surveyor but failed to be recruited because he had no big man and that having a certificate is one thing but being ready to undertake hazardous survey work in difficult terrain is another. When someone is not psychologically prepared to combine intellectual work with the tedious aspect of collecting and processing field data, he would try to cut corners. He said he suspected that this is what could have happened to the “log book” pupils and the ones that may have been freelancing before seeking registration.
Efforts to talk to, or trace the former Surveyor General failed but a reliable source within the Nigerian Institution of Surveyors affirmed that even if we get at him, he would by nature decline comments. A staffer at the Office of the Deputy Governor from Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District regrets the foolishness in some persons who do not know Mr. Essien and what he has contributed to Annang Land in the boundary areas over the years and wished those persons speedy repentance.
Our further investigation into the person of the former State Surveyor General show that he was a very assertive person that never toyed with his responsibilities or discriminated amongst persons. Most of his associates agree that though that he is firm on his convictions, he was accommodating while in office and was always advising Surveyors and pupils to “read beyond the theodolite”. Honoured as a Fellow in year 2006 and then as a Distinguished Fellow of the Nigerian Institution of Surveyors in year 2013, Mr. Essien is said to have been a “distinction student” from time and up to bagging his MSc. With Distinction from the prestigious and competitive International Institute for Aerospace Surveys, Holland. He also served on various committees at National level including the National Space Research and Development Agency(NASRDA) and the Geo-information Society of Nigeria where he was a long time National Secretary General, and then member, African Geodetic Reference Frame Committee. He has several accolades to his credit nationally and internationally and retired from the Civil Service of Akwa Ibom State as Surveyor General & Permanent Secretary in December 2014 after over 34years of meritorious service for which he received a commendation from the State Government.
Our former story therefore remains retracted and we regret any embarrassments caused those mentioned in that inadvertent report and particularly Mr.Essien and the new State Surveyor General, Mrs. Emem Isang.