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Imo inaugurates panel on bailout, salary arrears

rochas-okorocha--IMO State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, has directed that six months salary arrears of workers be paid from today from the total outstanding months.

Also, he said he would revert to the national minimum wage of N18,000 as against the N20,000 being paid presently in the state, adding that he would henceforth strictly apply the civil service rules, including sacking erring workers. He further added that those suspended for not being at work during inspection would not be paid.

And in efforts to checkmate the workers, the state is set to interview about 5,000 youths in the next few days as standby against workers who might want to frustrate the government.

Addressing the representatives of workers over the weekend in Owerri, Okorocha regretted that workers made his reputation dip over their salary arrears with industrial action, protest and negative media statements.

While inaugurating a five-man committee on the payment of salaries, Okorocha disclosed that the bailout funds he just received followed the restructuring of monthly deductions for loans from N1.7 billion to N480 million.

The committee included the Chief of Staff, Uche Nwosu, Head of Service, Calistus Ekenze, Accountant General, Stella Udogu, Principal Secretary to the Governor, Dr. Paschal Obi, and the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Local Government.

According to the governor, the state spends about N1.2 billion monthly on workers from about N2.6 billion federal allocation N400 million Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).

In view of that, he said he could no longer continue paying workers above what other states in the region because workers had continued with their uncomplimentary remarks.

He insisted that he would privatise and commercialise government agencies despite workers’ objection: “I was so disappointed that workers in Imo State can behave in such an uncivilised manner. Once you are removed, I will get somebody from your village to replace you.

“We pay N1.2 billion on salaries monthly, but this N1.2 billion is the last I will pay. We are going to pay the outstanding salaries and start afresh. It is my name and legacy that I am fighting for. Imo is just commencement of my political career. We must commercialise.”

Maintaining that workers’ actions were being politically influenced, Okorocha said: “Whosoever is advising you is ill-advising you. Instead of you to raise Imo, you are bringing it down. I am contemplating merging ministries and parastatals to cut down cost. I don’t intend to reduce Imo workforce.”

Meanwhile, he disclosed that about 300 members of staff of Imo Transport Company were sacked over a fraud of several millions of naira, while another fraud of N146 million was uncovered at the Health Management Board.

However, both the state chairman of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Austin Chilapku, and his Trade Union Congress (TUC) counterpart, Paul Akalazu, said they have not breached their agreement with the Imo government on payment and strike.

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