IMO: Workers Owed One Month, Not 11



AS the issue of states indebtedness to workers and other institutions continue to make the news, the Imo State Government has said it owed civil servants in various ministries only for the month of May.

The Chief Press Secretary to Governor Rochas Okorocha, Mr. Sam Onwuemeodo, told The Guardian on Thursday that Imo State only owes the month of May.

The state was created in 1976 and largely depends on Federal Allocations. The Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) hovers around N300 to N400 million.

He also said the state government pays N20,000 instead of N18,000 statutory minimum wage. This was the initiative of Okorocha at the heat of the issue some years back.

In a statement made available to The Guardian on Wednesday, Onwuemeodo said: “Some patriotic Nigerians and Imo citizens in particular have been inundating senior officials of the Imo State government with phone calls following reports that the Owelle Rochas Okorocha’s government is owing workers in the state 11 months salary arrears, or, thereabout.

“The report in question made front page stories of some of the newspapers concerned and as a government, we owe Nigerians the correct information on the workers salary in Imo which is completely opposite of the media reports. And whatever claim we make in this refutal, we stand to be contradicted.

“Again, in all the reports, the source of the story or the source from where the information, in the case of Imo State, came from was never made clear and that lacuna also heightened our suspicion that those who lost the governorship election in the state in April 2015, must have volunteered such falsehood. We are not worried about that since we can always state the truth of the matter. We see the whole report as unfortunate and a deliberate effort to hit at the Rescue Mission government in the state.

“The truth is that Imo State government does not owe the civil servants or the teachers who constitute the government workers in the state 11 months salary arrears and not even two months salary arrears. We are making this claim to be contradicted with verifiable fact.”

On the amount owed by the state government, the governor’s media scribe noted that the state only owed a little above N12 billion, maintaining that a large bulk of it was the bond obtained by the immediate past governor, Chief Ikedi Ohakim.

The Guardian gathered that retired civil servants and some workers of the Imo Newspapers were yet to receive their pensions and entitlements respectively for some months.

A retiree, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that he was owed since February; the issue was yet to be sorted out as at press time. He noted that retired workers have been agitating that they be paid their entitlements, but the position of the government is that their conditions of engagement was different from the civil service structure in such terms.

Meanwhile, the state government has begun a fresh process of credentials verification as directed by the governor. On Thursday, civil servants were asked to present their academic certificates and degrees, two passport photograph, last date of promotion as contained in Gen. 35 of civil service rules; date of birth among others that may be required by such panel set up.

The Guardian gathered that the major reason was to set the records straight, plug leakages; ascertain the retirement dates of workers and others.

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