Okorocha, Imo State Pensioners And The 10,000 Sacked Workers

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By Kenneth Uwadi

When I write against any of Governor Rochas Okorocha’s policies , a selected group of paranoid supporters of the government will accuse me of being biased and sponsored by political opponents. They will resort to name-calling. When I stand in favour of any laudable step that governor Okorocha took ,those that brand themselves opposition to the governor will shout that i have been paid to do so. They have since failed tell me who paid me whenever i criticize the governor.
Dr Herbert Nwankwo once said “ Our job is not to support Rochas Okorocha the man no matter what. Our job is to support what is good for Imo people no matter what’’ I owe no one any apology . Nigerian constitution stated that the duty of every citizen is to make positive and useful contribution to the advancement, progress and well-being of the community where he resides. Yes,It is the duty and responsibility of the citizenry and the media to criticize or praise the actions, positions and policies of the government. Otherwise, left alone and unchecked, government may violate or abridge the constitution; individuals within government may abuse their powers and use the instrument of state to oppress and repress, engage in corrupt practices and lead the state to utter ruin.
I read from the catholic leader news of June 11 2013 that pensioners in Imo State have not been paid their gratuity and pensions since August 2012, ten months now. What I can say to this story is — pathetic! Sad! Retirement, which ordinarily should be embraced with joy, has become a source of sorrow, frustration, panic and agony. I totally condemn in strong terms the insensitivity of the Imo State government towards the plight of pensioners in the state whose welfare has been undermined over the years by government’s neo-liberal policies; poor economy; hyper inflation; lack of basic infrastructure that had been the bane of the nation.
While issues bothering on festivities, retreats and other mundane things are attended to by Governor Okorocha, issues bothering on the welfare of workers and pensioners without whom social, political and economic services will grind to a halt, are being treated with levity. The nonpayment of pensions in Imo State for ten months now is a war on welfare of Imo state, privatizing health institutions in Imo is also a war on Imo state, cutting down benefits of workers , forcing people into work with no salaries and handing over public institutions in Imo to self-owned firms are war against welfare of Imo State.
Pensions are deferred wages taken either through taxation or company schemes. The deferred wages are paid into schemes, which are then invested in stocks, shares or government bonds to provide a pension on retirement. A civil servant, either at the state, federal or local government level, is qualified to draw pension if he has put in, a minimum of 10 years in the service and the maximum of 35 years. Gratuity, on the other hand is the lump-sum amount of money paid to an employee of any of the three tiers of government on leaving the service, having served for a minimal period of 5 years. We say NO to unpaid pensions in Imo State .
The motto of Nigerian pensioners reads ‘rest is sweet after retirement’. Yes, this is a statement of fact, but for retired workers in Imo State, their harrowing experience has proved the motto to be a mere wishful thinking. Rest cannot be sweet for aging pensioners in Imo State when they spend hours, almost daily, in queues for paltry pension without success for ten months now. Most of them are medically challenged who have taken abode in piggery-like shanties around the Pension Board office in Imo State. Some of them can slump one day and die due to hunger, fatigue and treatable illnesses. The worst kind of poverty is when people cannot get food and therefore they are thin and weak and may starve to death. Senate president, David Mark once said “if your wealth is from people’s pensions then that is blood money. It is blood money because you cannot take away the sweat, the entitlements of an old man or an old woman who is looking up just to that little appreciation from his country and believe that you will live in peace. You cannot because the prayers of those old men at home will fight you.”
It is pathetic that the meagre sum pensioners are paid in Imo State which is what is to be used for payment of house rent, feed their family and attend to a host of basic needs has not been paid for 10 months now. We call on the NLC in Imo State , TUC in the State and other pro-masses organizations to not just issue statements over the 10 months unpaid pension in the state , but to get more actively involved in the struggles of pensioners. They should compel the state government to perform its responsibility so as to improve the welfare of pensioners .
Also sources in government house have intimated me that Governor Rochas Okorocha has no plans to incorporate the 10,000 persons that he unjustly sacked 2 years ago in his ‘Imo Youths Must Work’ program. If Okorocha wants to give jobs to the youths of Imo state , he should start by re-absorbing the sacked but innocent 10,000 Youths officially verified by the Rescue Mission Agenda as truly employed by the previous administration. What is bad is bad irrespective of who is doing it, your man or our man. We say No to any anti-poor policies that will make life more miserable for the toiling Imo Youths. The employment of the 10,000 was approved by the State House of Assembly and the state Civil Service Commission. The recruitment was conducted through due process. Advertisement was placed in national newspapers.
There are laid down Civil Service rules to follow in the sack of any Civil Servant. If Okorocha is truly concerned about the plight of unemployed Imo youth graduates, then he must recall the beneficiaries of the ten thousand jobs as part of his Imo Youths Must Work’ program. The plans to exclude the sacked 10,000 Imo workers in this Imo Youths must work program is an anti-peoples’ policy which is the characteristic of usurper capitalist politicians who naturally feel not duty bound to give employment to youths and poor people since they don’t need their mandate to govern. Imo State unemployment rate is high. Thousands of Imolites are willing to work but are not employed. Unemployment is the number one issue in Imo state today. Imo people need jobs. That is how they can put food on the table. Every day, thousands of our unemployed brothers and sisters , including those who lost their jobs due to the sack of the 10,000 jobs, scan the pages of newspapers and websites for job advertisements. We say No to any Wili -Wili job for Imo State Youths .If the Imo Youths Must Work program is sincere then we should incorporate the sacked 10,000 legally employed civil servants in Imo state . Onye nwere nti ya nuru.
-Kenneth Uwadi, Mmahu-Egbema, Imo State,Nigeria

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