His Excellency Dr Ikedi Ohakim sends warm congratulations to the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and Imo State workers on the 2018 Workers Day celebration on Tuesday, May 1, 2018.
No doubt, having survived the harsh conditions forced on them by the inhuman administration of Governor Rochas Okorocha who has done everything possible to kill the state civil service, the civil servants deserve all the warm felicitations they can get.
The condition of the state's civil servants had never been this bad. Imo State used to be known for its vibrant civil servants, so much that the state was known for its vibrant civil service and education. Imo people used to adore civil servants and looked up to getting civil service jobs upon graduating from the university. Even those with lesser education looked up to working in the junior cadre of the civil service. A civil servant used to be revered. Today these glories are gone because Imo people danced to the tune of selfish propagandists in 2011 who were bent on cutting short the realisation of the beautiful dreams of the Imo people in order to pave the way for their enrichment.
Imo people had it so good under the Ikedi Ohakim administration. Ohakim prides himself as the Governor who upon assumption of office in 2007 increased workers salaries even before the clamour for minimum wage started. He lifted the over 15 years recruitment embargo into the state's civil service, paving the way for the recruitment of many Imo people.
The Ikedi Ohakim administration embarked on the biggest recruitment scheme ever in Imo State with the employment of the 10,000 graduates into the civil service, where government ensured that N450M circulated to Imo fsmilies monthly. This recruitment scheme which remains the most transparent recruitment scheme ever in the state had about 5,000 graduates employed into the school system, to mitigate the personnel challenges in the subsector.
Under the Ikedi Ohakim administration the workers were not forced to come to work dressed like students, but he made sure that they got adequate training/workshops and conferences and got their promotions as at when due. The civil servants were never denied their allowances and never did the Ikedi Ohakim administration contemplate cutting their salaries to 70%, even in the midst of excruciating world economic meltdown. The Ohakim administration kept the faith with the workers and they were never intimidated, embarrassed, or even transferred to their communities. He allowed the organized labour the space to operate, leading to robust engagements with the government.
The civil servants under the Ikedi Ohakim administration were the masters, and there was no need to suspect them, disrespect them and call them lazy people and subject them to incessant verification exercises.
It is very sad therefore that one of the most vibrant civil service in the country has been destroyed by the Okorocha administration as all the gains made in the civil service over the years have been eroded since 2011. It is on the record that upon assumption of office in 2011 Governor Okorocha terminated the appointment of 13 Permanent Secretaries and many Directors were forced out of their careers. This is outside the chairmen of boards and other agencies that were shown the way out.
More painful is that the Okorocha administration in its maiden broadcast in June 2011 sacked the 10,000 jobs beneficiaries employed by the Ikedi Ohakim administration, sacked the elected 27 local government chairmen and 305 councillors across the state, the coordinators and members of the 47 development centers. This reckless sacks skyrocketed the unemployment rate among our youths, with Imo State now having about One Million unemployed youths. This huge unemployment figure is a dangerous timebomb that must be diffused carefully.
The civil servants under the Okorocha administration have become objects for experiments, with the government only interested in compromising the leadership of the organized labour in the state.
Dr Ikedi Ohakim calls on the Labour and civil servants in the state to join hands with him and ensure that these anomalies stop in 2019 by bringing him back to office. He will ensure that not only will the civil servants return to their glorious days, but they will be enhanced by constant trainings, further education, workshops, etc, with adequately conducive working environment to meet the challenges of the 21st century, where a vibrant workforce is the engine of the government.
Apart from creating opportunities for 600,000 jobs, the Ikedi Ohakim administration will ensure that the 10,000 jobs beneficiaries are returned, while those who have moved on will be paid their entitlements, because government must be responsible at all times and government truly belongs to the people. Dr. Ikedi Ohakim will also ensure that Permanent Secretaries and others whose time have not run out will be reinstated to contribute to the running of the government.
Dr. Ikedi Ohakim also pledges to pay the backlog of salaries illegally deducted from the salaries of civil servants, and will embark on fresh salaries increment for the workers, not what is current being mumbled together as 80% salaries for the workers, instead of increment from the original 100%.
Dr. Ikedi Ohakim also calls on those who had put in their productive years in the service of the state and now retired not to lose hope but to also join hands with him to recover and reposition in Imo State. He assures those whose gratuities are unjustly being withheld that his administration will clear issues of gratuities and pension in three months of coming back to office.
Only Dr Ikedi Ohakim can achieve these goals and set Imo State back on track. Those who are part of the destruction going on in Imo cannot fix the problem. Only the man who had done it before can be trusted to do it again.
Dr Ikedi Ohakim did it before. He will do it again.
Happy Workers Day.
Collins Ughalaa, Chief Press Secretary to His Excellency Dr Ikedi Ohakim.