Posted On: Mon 12 Aug 2019 By SAM ONWUEMEODO
Let me first knock before opening the door. I had wanted to ink on the Caption “How not to pursue an innocent man”. But unfolding developments threw up a more demanding topic; “Ihedioha, Imo Workers’ Salary and how not to start”. If I had gone ahead with the first Caption, you would have known that the innocent man is me, yours faithfully. Then, the attendant Stories. But I give you the hints.
I came back one day and discovered that the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company, (EEDC) in Owerri had come to install a Pre-Paid metre for me, undemanding or unsolicited. I smiled. That smile was not from my heart, because the installation was suspicious, especially when I didn’t apply or ask for it. And the Imo governor is one of the figures behind the EEDC. In the two-storey building housing my office, are 12 flats. My office is at the last floor. The EEDC agents never installed the Pre-Paid metre for any other flat except mine that should have been the last, if it was to be done sequentially or properly. From Maris Super Market Junction Ikenegbu to the end of Oduobi Street, the building where my office is located is number 13. Along the street, you have three Super Markets, hotels, Schools and one Bank. None has the Pre-Paid metre. It is only me, the whole of that area. And they programmed it in such a way that I would load ten thousand naira and it would finish in one week. I wrote to protest. The man there said I should go to Enugu. I call it, Politically-Motivated Pre-Paid Metre for Sam Onwuemeodo.
Still navigating. On Tuesday, July 30, 2019 I received a text message from the State Director, Code of Conduct of Bureau, via 07034856848. And the message read thus: “I have been directed to inform you to come with all your Assets Declaration acknowledgement slips to the Code of Conduct Bureau Office Federal Secretariat, Port-Harcourt road, Owerri as a proof for your declarations for clarification as demanded by our headquarters Abuja. Treat as urgent”. I replied and told him that I needed clarification. He text again, “Come to the office please”. I asked him as what? He said “You accepted appointment as the only Chief Press Secretary to Imo State Government”. I knew where the man was coming from and where he was going. I then decided to teach him what he pretended not to know. I told him to read the fifth Schedule of the 1999 Constitution, Part I and Part II and know those concerned. He never disturbed me again. Even when I had called other former appointees, I discovered that he never sent such messages to any of them.
One of the reasons behind that prank manifested at the governorship Election Petition Tribunal Owerri, when on Tuesday, August 6, 2019 one of Governor Ihedioha’s lawyers asked me question on the issue of the period I was the Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to the former governor, when he was cross-examining me as a witness. Two, they have the belief too that I must have made too much money and acquired much properties under Okorocha and they needed to know where these billions and properties are located or domiciled. To them, my own CPS was exceptional. They have my sympathy. They have produced special music in the circumstance for me threatening fire and brimstone and disparaging me. I won’t talk about the torrential threats of all kinds. But you know what? They are chasing shadows as along as God is on the throne. Do you know what I have done here? Instead of the Rabbit running away from me, let me cut the tale. That is the reason for scratching what could have been the body of the essay under the title “How not to pursue an innocent man”. Afterall, all things work together for good to them that love God. You can also say, good music comes from the Piano when both the black and white keys are played. We are all on the right track, and also on course. Governor Ihedioha, Imo Workers’ Salary and how not to Start.
In his inauguration speech, Governor Ihedioha told Imo workers in particular that from that day he was going to pay them one hundred percent (100%) of their salaries because he erroneously believed that Okorocha had paid them 70%. The ovation was thunderous. He paid the May salary, it was the “so-called” 70%. Workers shouted foul. He paid June Salary, the story became more disappointing. Workers began to, not only mock but mourn. July salary came, the story was the same. There was total indignation, compelling or forcing the Accountant-General (AG) of the State, Deacon Donald Igbo to address a Press Conference. He told his audience that the salary was 100% and all that. Before I continue with the Issue of the AG’s defence, permit me to make this clarification.
Rochas Okorocha never paid 70% and we had made a lot of clarifications on that. On Tuesday, February 9, 2016, the National President of NLC, Dr. Ayuba Waba and that of TUC, Comrade Bala Kaigama led a powerful delegation of labour leaders and Union leaders who met with the government’s team led by Hon. Emeh Ikenna, Special Adviser to the governor (Technical), HRM Eze Agunwa Ohiri and the CAN President then, Bishop Stafford Nwogu were all members of the Joint Government/Labour Negotiation Committee.
Paragraph three of the agreement, signed by all of them Stated, “that, government will retain and run all its affairs with not more than 30% of the verified revenue for the month, while the Committee will apply the balance of 70% in the settlement of Salaries of Public Servants and Pensioners”. This was how the issue of 70% came up. That was 70% of the total income of the State for each month, while the government would take 30% for Capital Projects and so on. Back to the Accountant-General.
On Thursday July 11, 2019 Deacon Donald Igbo was reported to have told Journalists “I want to State that it is not true that Civil Servants in Imo State were paid 70%. The governor has taken the payment of workers’ salary and pension as a first line charge. And contrary to the wrong impression created that Imo workers were paid 70% salary, the governor is paying 100% of their salaries and the governor has magnanimously set out funds for this purpose”.
Okorocha appointed Deacon Igbo AG and Permanent Secretary. He merited it. He deserved that position. He grew from the ranks. But by the time Governor Ihedioha dropped other Permanent Secretaries appointed with Igbo and left him untouched, I knew that he had taken certain Political steps. And he proved me right through his actions and utterances. In his goodwill message on May 29, 2019 for the governor-elect Chief Ihedioha who was to be inaugurated governor that day, Deacon Igbo described him as “the People’s governor”. Someone who has not been sworn-in. And telling the Public at a Press Conference that one hundred percent salary was paid for the past months has simply contradicted his position or claims in the memo of August 5, 2019 which he personally signed. I had thought that Deacon Igbo would have done things differently.
If people like us were to be desperate for Power or Money, we would have been acting or behaving and talking differently to continue to move on. I have the feeling that a Child of God should not be desperate about these things. Even Owelle knew that I was not desperate to remain in his government. When he first dissolved his Cabinet, I quietly left. It took his ADC and Chief of Staff to call me to say, I was not affected. Even before May 29, 2019, I had stopped staying in the CPS’ office, weeks to the time. Positions and money do not make one thick. What is inside speaks volume.
In the referenced memo titled “TREASURY CIRCULAR” with RE: “Payment of 100% Salary to WORKERS”, the Accountant-General posited, “I am directed to convey His Excellency, Hon. Emeka Nkem Ihedioha, CON, Governor of Imo State’s approval to commence the payment of 100% Salaries to Imo Workers with effect from 1st August, 2019. You are therefore directed to submit your August, 2019 Salary with total adherence to 100% Salary Structure Agreed and Signed by Government and Joint Labour Unions in 2011”. On the face Value, the memo is fraudulent. And a deep analysis of the contents of the memo would make it both fraudulent and deceitful. Ikedi Ohakim’s government ended on May 29, 2011 and Rochas Okorocha began on May 29, 2011. Rochas began to pay the minimum wage of N20,000 as against N18,000. So which salary structure of 2011 was the AG referring to. Ohakim or Rochas? Because the duo had connection with 2011? What happened to workers promoted between 2011 and 2019 which ultimately would affect their salaries positively or progressively? What of those employed between 2011 and 2019? And why telling the world that you paid 100% for the past months when you have indicated that the whole arrangement would take effect this August?
And by talking about 2011 salary arrangement, also means that the new government is not keen in the latest minimum wage which is N30,000, and which some well-meaning States and governors have already accepted to pay. This is not how a new government should behave or start.
It is not also advisable for the government to begin to speak in tongue over existing or already approved allowances and approvals for MDAs. And subjecting such allowances and approvals to a fresh endorsement by the governor before they could be paid, was also not in good faith. It really leaves much to be desired. One had expected the governor or the government he heads to take steps or actions that would tell the workers that their future is bright with regard to their salaries and other emoluments. Or do something that would ginger them to believe or conclude that there is light at the end of the tunnel. But with these harsh steps, it is better to conclude that a bleak future awaits the workers in Imo State under the present PDP government. The truth is that all the initial expectations of the workers in the State from the Ihedioha-led government have been dashed. And so early in the life of the administration. This is very unfortunate.
I had in one outing advised governor Ihedioha to review his vow to step on the toes of Okorocha and all that. I had stressed that he would loose a lot of political weight in his desperation or determination to step on Owelle’s toes especially when the man’s toes could be “toxic” because some toes are clay in nature and you hurt yourself when you step on them. I do not know between Ihedioha and the Secretary to the Government of the State who should take the medal for “Shoot-at-sight” disposition. I have also heard that the Attorney-General of the State is in that class. Then, trouble Dey. The whole of Owerri and environs have been flooded by revenue collectors with their Identification Cards and prison-like uniforms, and they are beating people especially motorists with “who say men-no-dey mentality”. Killings in the State have begun to make front pages again. The problem is that the time he would have devoted to governance is devoted to pursuing or chasing Rochas Okorocha and family.
The way God works is not akin with the way human beings work. When we alluded that the green Cap man is coming to unveil “OkoroAwusa” for Celebration, some elements didn’t believe us. But the whole thing is becoming Prophecy-fulfilled. The elite and godfathers never liked Rochas. They have come back in their large number and the masses should not accept goodwill messages from them. They have advised him to destroy all that Rochas did giving flimsy excuses. And he has begun to do that. But like I have always intoned, time is of great essence in all human endeavours or engagements. Simply put, TIME WILL TELL, while we continue to clap for Jesus.