Governor of Edo state Godwin Obaseki, has sacked 513 staff of the defunct state sports council as part of a transition plan for the setting up of the Edo State Sports Commission, the state government has explained.
In a memo titled: “Transition Plan for Staff of Edo State Sports Council to Edo State Sports Commission,” Obaseki said the sack which took effect from March 21 affected junior, senior and management categories of workers who do not possess the competence to remain in the employment of the state.
“We have carefully reviewed the organisation structure for the new Sports Commission and assessed the existing staff of the defunct Council against the required competences required to operate in the Commission.
“Following the assessment for the establishment of the Edo State Sports Commission, we have completed the assessment of staff of the defunct Sports Council, who possess the requisite skills sets to transit to the new Sports Commission,” the statement said in part.
It added that the affected sacked staff would be immediately paid their one month in lieu of notice, while their pension payment would commence in April 2022.
However, the affected workers staged a protest on Wednesday, describing the move by the state government as sudden as sudden and inconsiderate, adding that some of them have been asked to reapply as casual workers.
One of the protesters, and former Paralympian Patience Igbiti, who had been a permanent staff of the Edo state sports council for over 20 years said she rejected job offers abroad to groom young talents in the state and now feels betrayed by the government.
She said: “I have been here for over 20 years as a permanent staff and all of a sudden you disengage me. I have rejected jobs abroad to train people for my state, where do you now want me to start from?”
A visually-impaired athlete Friday Aibangbe, who was also sacked noted: “I believe that the Governor did not consider us at all. We worked for him and voted for him and fought for him, now he has disappointed us. Do I go and start begging money? They should have human face. It is very sad; it is very painful.”
The protesters were later addressed by the newly appointed Commission Chairman Yusuf Ali, who promised to take their complaint to the government.
“I wouldn’t have wanted this to be how we met for the first time. I am a former athlete myself and you know me very well. I have always fought for the welfare of athletes; that is why I am here to see how we can solve this,” Ali said.