There was tension at Akwa Ibom State Secondary Education Board (SSEB) last Friday as the Chairman Hon Ekaette Ebong and Board members were engaged in a fight, drawing attention of staff and visitors at Idongesit Nkanga Secretariat in Uyo.
Our Correspondent gathered that one of the board members descended heavily on the chairman and ordered her to shut up during the meeting while the chairman Ekaette Ebong called her children who arrived the scene with suspected hoodlums and beat up a board member identified as Macfred Ekefre to coma as others scampered for safety.
It was gathered that Manfred Ekefre in turn brought thugs numbering 10 to square up with the Board Chairman in the free for all fight that ensued.
An eyewitness who pleaded anonymity said the fight started in the Board’s Conference Room where the chairman, Dr Ekaette Ebong and other members had a meeting to prepare the final list of Junior Staff recruitment to fill vacancies in the state public schools.
The Board members include two former local government chairmen namely Victor Ini Okon, Oron, Martin Umanah from Ikot Ekpene council, Ofonmbuk Ukeme, Ibesikpo Asutan and Macfred Ekefre from Mkpat Enin council area while the former lawmaker Ekaette Ebong Okon from Itu is the chairman.
Investigations reveal that members of the board always ignored the office of the chairman by taking decisions without her consent in matters of posting, promotion and appointment of Principals in the state secondary schools; a development which the chairman could not condone.
One of the staff at the board who confided with our Correspondent said the members constituted themselves into what he described as ‘Board within the Board ‘ as the Chairman is continuously sidelined.
“These board members made it difficult for the chairman, maybe because she’s a woman.
“They constituted themselves into another board, and they have a chairman amongst themselves. In other words, there’s a board within the board, and it frustrates the main board.
“They want to decide who becomes the principal, who’s appointed vice principal, who’s given employment, and because of this, there’s no day we have a board meeting that ends successfully. It’s always a near-fight case at the end of each meeting,” he said
He said trouble started during the meeting when Macfred Ekefre stood up and shouted at the chairman, telling her to shut up while the chairman reacted bitterly, resulting in a fracas.
“Some senior staff of the Board were there and tried to separate them but the chairman didn’t seem calm enough to end the fight.
” She took up her phone and call her children, one of them who is a Special Assistant to the governor on Project Monitoring, Ebong Archibong led his friends down there, and they met Macfred, and almost lynched him.”
He said fight ensued at the board meeting when it was discovered that the Board members have allocated more slots to themselves leaving the chairman with virtually nothing.
Continuing, he explained that one of the board members even bought the slot from his colleague and resold it to members of the public at the sum of N500,000 each.
” What led to this, is the junior staff recruitments being hijacked by the board members shared the slots amongst themselves and used it to make money, selling each slot about five hundred thousand, and I was informed that one of them single-handedly bought all the slots from other 3 board members.
“The chairman didn’t know about this, so they seem to take control over the thing, and the chairman said, it cannot be done that way.
“The chairman insisted that every person that is to be employed must be seen, and interviewed. As I speak, they have not given the list of those, they want, for recruitment. So, this is what caused the fight.
“One of the board members brought thugs, about 10 hefty looking guys, they surrounded the ground floor, and attracted so many viewers.”
Confirming the incident, the chairman of the Board Dr Ekaette Ebong said members have been fighting her from the day the board was constituted.
” I don’t know why they fight me. Is it because I am a woman? I will never surrender to them I am their chairman and they have to respect me.
” They claimed I called cultists to beat them up. They have to bring the cultists when the time comes. They can not sideline me on the board where I’m the Chairman.” she said
Another Senior Officer of the Board who pleaded anonymity described the incident as dirty and unbecoming of respected public servants adding that they have dragged the image of the government in the mud.
“This does not depict a good image for the board, and for the government of the day.
He therefore urged Governor Udom Emmanuel to dissolve the board for lack of decorum and tarnishing the image of the government.
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