Since Gov Hope Uzodimma assumed power in January one intractable problem he found difficult to manage is the salary challenge. Uzodimma has drowned Imo workers in severe hardship since he came to power drawing from the commentaries making the rounds. Many workers are owed up to 8 months salary eg the Water Corporation people. Some of the governor’s aides speaking to yours sincerely under conditions of anonymity declared that nothing is happening in the government.
“We are not seeing anything o, most of us are not paid o. We are just suffering and smiling and pretending that all is well. We don’t know what the governor is doing” when one was queried on why the governor appropriated the payment of salary to his office. It was learnt that the payment of salary is now done in the government house through the use of a consultants. This is reported to be fraught with some mounting irregularities contrary to what the government claims that they want to resolve. While there are some over payments many are short paid.
Many workers have reported short payments in their salaries. A senior staff of IBC was paid 6 months’ salary cumulatively and 25k was deducted for each month but because of the excitement of the accumulated payment he could not press further for the refund. A female teacher in a primary school has about 8k deducted from her salary each time she manages to receive payment since Uzodimma came. In her school, some are still owed since March while she is owed 4 months as at date.
The government keeps claiming that it does not owe anybody except those with documentary issues. This claim comes as untrue when compared to the hues and cries of many workers. Some have alleged that the government which receives monthly allocation do fix the vote for salary payment and earn accrued interest which is why there are numerous arrears of unpaid emoluments. The government is silent on this.
Even ISOPADEC workers that get their votes direct from Abuja have their salaries owed as well. The numerous protest actions have not moved the government that appears stone hearted. Imo economy is dependent on civil service and the unpaid wages have affected adversely economic activities.
A teacher who got tired of borrowing from friends and relations got into frying akara (bean cake) suffered casualty when the son fell into the hot oil. That is double tragedy. This represents some of the problems caused by the government. What is shocking about the whole scenario is the inability of the stakeholders, the labour, traditional rulers, the priests and pastors who collect tithe to speak truth to power in defense of their subjects.
While the government claims that they want to be paid the workers are dying and begging to be paid. Before Uzodimma came Ihedioha had kept fate with the workers. The question now is when Imo workers will smile again.