By Precious Nwadike
So much have been said about reason(s) for subjecting our aged parents, who put in greater part of their active years to serve our dear STATE. It is now common in Imo, that every governor that comes on board hides under the pretence of verification, to keep these pensioners perpetually helpless, while waiting for unending verifications.
When Senator Uzodinma, took over the mantle of leadership as governor of Imo state on January 16, 2020, we were consoled by the fact that his worst in governance would be Okorocha’s best. Today, I do not know if we overrated our governor. Some would ask, ” is it not too early to assess the governor?” Very correct!
It is too early, but I am restricting my epistle to the foundation of the 3Rs government of which by my understanding of governance, is faulty owing to the fact, that it hasn’t addressed lingering issue of salary and pension payment.
Indeed, faulty foundation begets faulty polices and programs. Having said this, my prayer still remains with governor Hope Uzodinma. Among my prayer points, is for God to endow him with more wisdom, to identify the sycophants in his cabinet, and the courage to shut them up. Those I have seen have enormous capacity to derail the government. They are the same people that insult the sensibilities of Imo people, and go back to tell the governor that all is well. How can all be well when workers salaries are not paid and pensioners protest every day?
I wonder why governments fail, in their statutory obligation to pay salary and pension when allocation from Federal government is steady. In one of my recent radio outings with Oziza FM, I emphatically stated that key actors in every government that fails to pay salary should hide their faces in shame. This is because I understand the workings of our constitution.
Having said this, I and indeed a preponderant that majority of Imolites, really do not understand the latest pension story at all. The governor should throw more light. If I heard him right, 8 persons have been discovered as pension fraudsters and they took home #350 Million annually. At first, I thought the names were familiar so we could know their own side of the story but totally strange names. This does not mean that I doubt the sincerity of our governor but once bitten twice shy.
In the past,we witnessed a government that severally lied to the people. In Okorocha’s case, we were able to identify some of the alleged fraudsters arrested but in the governor Uzodinma’s version of what appears another gimmick, the names are not familiar. This is why the governor or the commissioner of Information should tell us more about the story even if the masses don’t believe them.
The 8 pension fraudsters story is obviously like ex-governor Rochas Okorocha’s narrative when he arrested some alleged pension fraudsters. More painful was that Imo people took him serious unknown to us that it was a ploy to hoodwink us and further pocket chunks of pension money.
No doubt, we forget in a hurry but at least, we still remember one Mrs Chinyere Uwandu who later became Special Adviser and Commissioner in Ex- governor Rochas Okorocha-led torture called government, after her arrest as pension fraudster. To me, it was handsome reward for accepting to be named one of the pension fraudsters. Till date, neither Okorocha nor the lady has apologized to us for deceiving Imo people and the media.
Going forward, I beg the governor of Imo State, Senator Uzodinma not to allow us lose the modicum of confidence we have in the system. Imo people have severally been deceived by successive governments that threw themselves to power. In Uzodinma’s case, while some of us were trying to work out the mathematics or if you like, algebra in how the governor saves #2 Billion monthly from ghost workers against the actual wage bill of Imo state workers which is #2.5Billion. Now, another gist has surfaced which is the pension fraudsters.
My thinking is that, the governor should first give us update on the alleged ghost workers. Their names and location should be made public. We are actually talking about our public fund. Imo people deserve to know what happened. If any of our brothers or sisters is caught in the Web, such person should be dealt with the full weight of the law. There shouldn’t be a sacred cow.
However, come to think of it; if the governor saves #2Billion from ghosts monthly it means he actually has #500Million to pay salary since Imo wage bill is #2.5Billion. As we gathered, Imo state University subvention alone is #250Million while Imopoly is #115Million. These have almost exhausted the said sum. What now happens to the State civil servants, teachers, staff of parastatals? This is why I still doubt the figure bandied by the government or the consultants that manage our public funds.
At present, what the pensioners want to hear is when their money will be paid, not those who are the pension fraudsters. Okay, let us assume it is true; can the government start paying from the month the fraudsters were discovered while it intensifies effort to have them refund all the money?
For Imolites, we are ready to join our amiable governor to fish out these criminals. The die is cast.
Comrade Precious Nwadike Wrote from Umudiatu Orlu,Orlu LGA