By Petrus Obi.
Recent revelations in IMO have been shocking. The startling stories of salary padding, outrageous number of ghost workers and other sharp practices in the civil service are bizarre and incredible.
Eight persons are paid N330m per annum as pension while the number of teachers is competing favourably with number of pupils.
Out of 13,800 primary school teachers in the state only 9,000 are found to be real.
There is overwhelming discrepancies and irregularities resulting from salary padding, over bloated and double pensions among other sharp practices.
Pensioners receive monies above their retirement salaries and some even outrageous monies that are not accounted for.
The rot in the system must have severely affected previous governments who grappled with issues of unpaid salaries, gratuity and other wages.
The level of fraud in the system is such that no sane government would want to make further payments until the system is sanitized.
And, Governor Hope Uzodimma has shown the political will to uproot the Cabal. He has taken the right step and determined to see it to the end.
He has also advised those playing politics with pensions and salaries to stop, vowing to dismantle the cabal that milk the state dry through the pensions and salaries
For the Imo Governor, pensions and salaries are not negotiable, yet, government cannot afford to overlook such conduit pipe in the system. Thus, there the need for sacrifices here and there.
Uzodimma, a humane and well known philanthropist, who has touched several lives even before joining politics has continued to appeal to the conscience of the affected workers even as opposition try to capitalize on the genuine and laudable intentions of the government.
Last Sunday the Governor lauded Imo workers and pensioners whose salaries and pensions have been delayed for their patience and perseverance, assuring that soon the problems will be sorted out.
He expressed determination to ensure that genuine workers and pensioners no longer cry over their rights as have been the case in the state in recent years.
He also directed that workers and pensioners who use Micro Finance Banks that don’t issue BVN quickly revert to commercial banks.
The governor promised that in the interim, the government is working to see how genuine workers and pensioners among those complaining that they have not received alert can be paid manually while waiting for the right thing to be done.
He therefore advised those who consider themselves as genuine workers and pensioners to take their particulars and complaints to their Unions for proper documentation and channeling to government for immediate attention.
He warned that all workers who colluded with others with criminal intents to defraud Government huge sums of money through salary padding and self-promotion to cadres they don’t belong in order to earn salaries they don’t deserve, must surely pay back the excesses to government.
He wondered how primary schools would have a population of teachers whose number is almost more than that of the pupils they teach, saying that an insight into the payroll of primary school teachers has revealed unbelievably large number of ghost teachers.
Governor Uzodimma said he has a covenant with God to do the right thing in office and is irrevocably committed to doing the right thing.
He re-emphasized government determination to continue with the automation of salaries of workers and pensioners.
No doubt, the IMO governor has a clear direction and is not ready to be distracted.
He appears to have discovered the reason why it had been difficult for past governments to pay salaries and will not be deterred in this redemption trip.