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18.04.2012 Feature Article


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Jenifer walked into my room drunk. She sat down. 'I've come' she said, 'to tell you the latest news about Rochas Okorocha ,your Governor in Douglas House,Owerri. Have you heard that he has embarked on another mass sack of Imo State Civil Servants, claiming that he is redeploying them to their LGA's? ' She asked me. 'The news is that all workers in Owerri from level 9 to level 1 are going home' She cried.

Who doesn't know Jenifer in the neighbourhood? She was among the 10,000 Imo State Civil Servants that Governor Rochas Okorocha sacked on 6th June 2011 for no good reason. Today, she hates Rochas with a passion for making her unemployed. She took up the vodka drinking habit since she lost her job in the Imo State Civil Service. She has dark skin, tiny boobs, long shiny dark hair, and brown eyes. She looks very athletic. Her cloth hugs her body; the lightest of cotton.

'Okorocha wants to downsize ministries. He said that each ministry will now have just 100 staff. Government House 100 and very big ministries 200 staff.He addressed Civil Servants at the State Secretariat. He was booed. The workers booed him, showing him shege'

I sat on the chair speechless, watching Jenifer arrange her long shiny dark hair before my sitting room mirror. The news of another mass sack in Imo State shocked me. I quickly made phone calls and discovered that the news is true. Jenifer pulled her hair up and piled it on top of her head. She let her eyes look at my eyes, and then she dropped her hair and let it fall down in front of her face. Each time I see Jenifer in this mood, I feel her pains of unemployment and the sadness is so great.

Another mass disengagement of Civil Servants in Imo State in less than one year?.This is in continuation of the anti poor, anti workers policies of Governor Okorocha. When he was campaigning for the peoples votes,he ran, promising to be a 'Jobs Governor,' because he wanted Imolites to believe that he would make real progress putting people back to work. Nearly one year later, we have made no progress on jobs and he not only has no answer on giving people jobs, he don't think it's his job to offer one. He is not creating jobs but is busy putting Imolites out of jobs. He has so far sacked more than 16,000 Imolites. He is now sending more persons home in the name of redeployment of Civil Servants to Communities to serve in an illegal Community Government Council.

The action of the Okorocha government is becoming more barbaric given the fact that in Imo State the Civil Servants constitute the largest proportion of salary earners with a large population of dependants. However, the criminal silence of NLC in Imo state further reveals the real face of the current Imo NLC chairman as inhuman and anti-workers.

I hold the strong view that the government can afford to pay minimum wage to workers across Imo and in fact, implement more pro-masses policies without tears. Another mass sack of workers is a sorry development, especially because Imo is fabulously blessed with abundant human and natural resources, and remains a potential pool of the best of what humanity is blessed with if concerted effort is made to develop these huge resources. I am of the opinion that to further reduce the strength of the Civil Service by sacking workers on the basis of right sizing is simply unacceptable. We say NO to this. Even the few available workers in the Civil Service are simply not even enough.

I stood up , touched Jenifer's wrists and hands.I feel sorry for her.She was sacked months ago now her sister is about to be sacked. Our governor probably overlooked the fact that the average Nigerian worker has four dependents – at least two living with him.Why is he removing food from the table of the masses that voted him into power?

Okorocha should go for policies in Imo that will place giving the people jobs as his highest priority. We need reform to encourage a strong business economy and create jobs. This reform needs to reach every corner of our state, into every industry and every business large and small so that we can achieve a technological, industrial, and agricultural business renaissance here in Imo state.

Jenifer walked away from the mirror. 'This is not what we bargained' she said. All the things we were told during the election, all the love we chased, all the good campaign promises, what happened to them?' She asked.

' No be small thing-o' I said 'While the rank and file workers in Imo state are being asked to go home ,the governor continues to enrich himself more and more at the expense of the citizens. If one were to count the amount of overseas trips, times the amount of out of pocket allowances that Okorocha receives plus what is going on in our LGA's in the name of caretaker government, it exposes the ugly underbelly of what he means when he said he was on a rescue mission.He is really rescuing his pocket.'

'We now have an Imo state of unemployed youths; Imo state were minimum wages are denied workers, Imo state were workers are owed salaries, Imo state were the people are being denied employment in spite of their potentials; Imo state of escalating executive lawlessness, Imo state were LGA funds are looted, Imo state of disregard for constitutional rights. Government in Imo today is Owelle only . Those in government today are suffocating. The teachers are suffering. The civil servants are suffering. Business men are suffering. Even the traders are suffering. What we have now in Imo State is the more you look the less you see'

Well, I'm going.I am angry.I hate Okorocha with a passion.' She said .

I got up and walked her to the door. Just as she was leaving, she said, 'Mr Uwadi, please buy me the rice you promised me, Mama Gold rice-o .No, I want Caprice, Caprice rice seems to be better'. I watched her walked away. See how Owelle has turned this young graduate into a beggar.There are many Jenifers' made unemployed by Rochas out there in Owerri. Save us O God.

Kenneth Uwadi, Mmahu-Egbema, Imo State,Nigeria

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