BY: SAM ONWUEMEODO
At the recent reception organized for Governor Hope Uzodinma, by a group in Owerri zone of Imo State, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, one of the key leaders of the State and a member of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who was the Chairman of the occasion told those in attendance that, though Owerri Zone people didn’t vote for Gov. Uzodinma in the 2019 election, the reverse would be the case in 2023. He assured, without mincing words, that the zone would vote for the Orlu zone born governor in 2023.
Aside members of his Party, the PDP, other illustrious sons and daughters of Owerri zone had descended on Chief Iwuanyanwu for that statement. They regretted that such Comment could come from him. They however added that he had spoken for himself and not for the people of Owerri zone.
In spite of the attacks over his assurance of Owerri zone votes for Uzodinma in 2023, Chief Iwuanyanwu in a memo, he personally wrote and signed, entitled, “Imo Politics and Ohaneze Ndigbo” made public on Thursday, December 24, 2020, Stated that the Imo State Governor, “Senator Uzodinma has done well, both in appointments and in developmental efforts”. Do not forget, whose account or report do we believe?
Archbishop Anthony Obinna whose opinions on matters concerning the State over the years had mattered a lot, had also spoken on two occasions in recent time eulogizing Governor Uzodinma and his administration. The first was when the governor worshipped at Assumpta Cathedral. At the Service, the Archbishop praised the governor for paying workers and Pensioners in the State their salaries and entitlements upto date. That statement from the Archbishop didn’t go down well with a lot of Imo people. The Condemnations were avalanche.
But the Archbishop was neither bothered nor deterred. At the Christmas Carol, organized by the State Government, which held at the Victory Chapel, Government House Owerri, built by the former governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, Bishop Obinna, who had earlier branded the Chapel, a mosque, in his speech, said that Governor Uzodinma had “Continued to surprise him with his good governance”. Remember, whose account or report, do we believe?
Governor Uzodinma in his own speech at the Holy Trinity Catholic Church Omuma, his home town, on December 25, 2020 told the Congregation that he would not owe Imo workers and pensioners their entitlements during his tenure as governor of Imo State. Before this outing, he had at the same Carol where the Archbishop spoke, claimed that he had paid 99% of the Civil Servants and Pensioners in the State their Salaries and Pensions. He equally rated his administration high in terms of achievements. Follow me closely. But, whose account or report do we believe? We are making progress.
Before December 2020, the Organized Labour in Imo State had given the State government ultimata on two occasions over their demands. There was no information on whether Governor Uzodinma or his government responded to any of those ultimata or the demands. Or, whether he or his government had met with the workers through their representatives on the issues they had raised. There was no information to that effect.
But a clearer picture came up on Thursday, December 17, 2020, when the Organized Labour in the State issued a Statement, telling Imo Workers to embark on 8-Day warning strike, with effect from Monday, December 21, 2020 and to end on Thursday, December 31, 2020. Whose account or report do we believe?
In the letter conveying the Notice for the 8-Day Warning Strike, which was signed by the Secretary of the State branch of the NLC, Comrade Kenneth Onwuemeodo, the Workers listed ten points as the reasons for embarking on the warning strike. And also stated that, the warning strike was necessitated by the “failure of the Imo State Government to address the issues contained in the 14-day ultimatum given to it by the Organized Labour in Imo State”. Whose account or report do we believe?
In the letter, the workers talked about non-payment, staggered payment, and under payment of Imo workers’ salaries since February 2020; Non-payment, staggered payment and under payment of Imo Pensioners since February 2020; Demand for immediate conclusion of the N30,000 National Minimum Wage negotiation in the State and its immediate implementation; Demand for the reversal of the payment of Salaries to the Office of Accountant-General through the payroll System; Demand for the reversal of pensions to the office of Accountant-General under the supervision of the Head of Service Imo State; The immediate stoppage of the use of Consultants for the payment of Salaries and Pensions; The immediate Commencement of Promotion/Conversion exercise and implementation of incremental date; The implementation of the 2014 promotion exercise in the Parastatals; The rejection of extension of service for Retired Permanent Secretaries and others and Non-remittance of Check-Off dues to Industrial Unions”.
The 8-day warning strike as stated earlier, was to begin on Monday, December 21, 2020. But on Friday, December 18, 2020, the governor hurriedly made a broadcast, using the Covid-19 stuff as a cover, and asked the workers to leave or go home without telling them why and when they should come back. He also didn’t wish them Merry Christmas.
In the broadcast and in other speeches, the governor never denied or reacted to any of the issues the workers had raised as their reasons for embarking on the warning strike. And the governor also never did anything to prove the workers wrong on all the issues they had raised. No denial. No counter claim. A case of, as the Court pleases.
But I make bold to ask again; looking at the workers’ demands and the already embarked 8-day warning strike and also looking at the approach the governor had adopted in asking the workers to go home without wishing them Merry Christmas, whose account or report do we believe on the issues Concerning the Salaries and entitlements of workers and Pensioners’ in the State? Do we believe the Governor? Or, Chief Iwuanyanwu? Or, Archbishop Obinna? Or, the workers and the rest of Imo people who apparently have sympathies for the workers? Whose account or report do you believe or do we believe?
And if the governor had paid ninety-nine (99) Percent of the workers and Pensioners their Salaries and Pensions, would there have been need for all the ultimatums, Correspondences and finally, the warning Strike?
The governor had also accused the leaders of the Organized Labour in the State of sabotage and blackmail. He talked about some of them being retired personnel as if that had gotten anything to do with the issues at stake.
In case the government does not know, most Imo people seem to believe the workers, until the government comes up with a more Concrete proof against the claims of the workers. Even the use of Consultants in the Payment of Salaries and Pensioners, should be marked exhibit-one against the governor and his government. Whose account or report, do we believe?
The Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) Imo State Chapter, has been on strike. The government has Continued to have issues with Imo State University Teaching Hospital (IMSUTH) Orlu. The government has got issues with Imo State University (IMSU). The government has issues with both students and staff of Imo Polytechnic Umuagwo. The government has got issue with ISOPADEC. The government has issues with NLC, NUJ and other Sectors or Institutions in the State. And none has been resolved. And we are talking about the governor’s first one year in office.
Go to the market, the topic is governor Uzodinma and his government. You enter bus or taxi, the same thing. You walk on the streets, the same issue. And all in the negative. So, whose account or report do we believe? Governor Uzodinma? Archbishop Obinna? Chief Iwuanyanwu or the people?
The governor also has scores to settle with majority of APC members and leaders in the State. His party. Even in his Camphope, members have issues to settle with him. In his Cabinet, aside those in the juicy ministries and establishments, he has issues with the rest. The former governor, Rochas Okorocha had raised alarm that the governor has Continued to demolish the projects he built for Imo people as governor, without his building new ones.
The governor also has issues with the hawkers in the State who are also complaining that government activities that had encouraged their businesses, have all gone under as we write.
In the face of all these, whose account or report do we believe? Do we believe the account of the governor? Do we believe the report of Archbishop Obinna? Do we believe the account of Chief Iwuanyanwu? Or, do we believe Imo Workers, Pensioners and the rest of Imo people? Or, do we sit on the fence by not believing any? For me, I do not believe the report of the governor. I do not believe the account of Archbishop Obinna. I also do not believe Chief Iwuanyanwu’s account. You can fathom whose account or report I believe. What of you? Merry Christmas. While we Continue to Clap for Jesus.