By. Ferdinand Ekeoma.
When Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu made his campaign promises, especially where they concerned workers welfare, which included his pledge to pay workers on or before the 24th of every month, it was assumed he anchored this on his ability to show prudence in the management of the resources of the state.
When he failed the litmus test of paying Abia workers on or before the 24th of June 2015, those of us in APGA didn’t condemn him even though he failed to give any genuine explanation for the delay, we still assumed it could be as a result of the financial challenges in the country then, unfortunately we were proven wrong as further developments have shown that the delay in the payment of workers salaries in Abia is purely predicated on the unseriousness of the present government and its inability to prioritize the needs of Abia workers by swiftly but meticulously initiating an acceptable mechanism aimed at alleviating the sufferings of Abia workers as at when due.
After dismissing the rumor that his predecessor left an empty treasury for him, APGA repeatedly called on the present government to disclose the true financial status of the state, and specifically to disclose how much was needed to clear arrears of salaries of Abia workers, but the calls fell on deaf ears. Surprisingly less than 48hours after receiving the 3.2billion excess revenue from FG, the state government went on air claiming that she needed little over 6billion to pay off the debt owed Abia workers, the same disclosure the government failed to make before the arrival of the 3.2billion; does this not look suspicious?
In the midst of this, the government continues to unnecessarily delay the payment of workers salaries on the pretence that it was carrying out biometric verification, the same verification exercise that Ochendo carried out for more than one year. One is forced to ask, if Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu’s government could not fault T.A.Orji’s poor performance as examplified by his government’s recent criticism of “The Save Abia Group” and “The Sun Newspapers” for writing and publishing the petition sent to EFCC against Ochendo, how then is Dr.Ikpeazu’s government finding it difficult to accept the biometric exercise carried out by his predecessor which ought to have removed the ridiculous and unjustifiable delay in the payment of workers salaries; of course we know that the billions meant to pay our workers are cooling off some where illegally yielding interest for the benefit of some selfish oppressors and to the detriment of our workers.
Today we have moved to another stage of the tragic comedy with the approval of the 14.150 billion naira bail out fund by the FG, and the highly questionable 10billion naira CBN loan hurriedly approved by Abia State House of Assembly a few days ago.
Every one knows that the 14 billion isn’t a Christmas gift, but a loan that must be repaid within a specified period of time, with the interest rate of 9 percent, so it’s certainly not the kind of money that’s is supposed to be expended recklessly, unfortunately the government has already kicked off wrongly by setting up the so called committee that would preside over the disbursement or utilization of the fund. One finds it very difficult to understand the essence of this committee, except to delay the payment of the suffering workers and probably divert a huge chunk of the money.
How can a committee be set up for the purpose of paying workers who are not being paid for the first time? What is the importance of the so called biometric exercise carried out by the government if it cannot be relied upon to pay workers without unnecessary delay? How is the government going to make up for the shortfalls that would be recorded after the payment of the committee members? What is the essence and roles of government agencies and parastatals like the office of the Accountant General, Auditor General, and above all Ministry of Finance if they cannot single handedly carry out their statutory functions without the assistance of the so called committee? What if the bailout funds were Abia’s increased statutory monthly allocation, wouldn’t the government be able to handle it for the payment of our workers and development of our state without setting up a committee?
Why would Dr. Ikeazu’s government approach CBN for additional 10billion naira loan without first of utilizing the 14billion naira bailout fund with frugality to actualize people oriented projects and achieve people oriented results, we seriously suspect that the resort to reckless borrowing is for the bad reason of punishing his successor.
A few days ago it was reported on BCA where the Factional Chairman of NLC in Abia was quoted as having said that the 14.150billion naira bailout fund would not be enough to clear arrears of salaries owed Abia workers, claiming that it would have been best if the said 39 billion applied for by the state was approved by the FG; this is to say the least idiocy taken to the apogee, of course that’s the hand of Esau and the voice of Jacob in action. This has also lent credence to the claims of some Senior Staff of the State Education Management Board(SEMB) that the Governor Dr. Ikpeazu held a meeting with them not too long ago and specifically told them that he wasn’t going to pay them May Salary since he wasn’t the one that incurred the debt. He was also alleged to have told them that he wasn’t going to pay them their unpaid leave allowances and other arrears.
From the foregoing, it’s obvious that some individuals are out to plunge Abia into avoidable bankruptcy that would certainly make the future of Abia bleak.
We call on the Abia State government and her army of foot soldiers who are already leaking their lips in excitement of anticipation of their share of the billions to pulse a bit and ponder before plundering this commonwealth they did not work for.
The level of socio-political, economic, and infrastructural decay in Abia doesn’t require any iota of mediocrity in the governance of this state, it doesn’t require those who do nothing except to sit down and count dates for the arrival of our monthly allocations, it doesn’t also require the involvement of those who feed fat on hapless Aba Traders and suffering Motorists, it requires those who can courageously subdue the cabal that has disconnected and diverted the attention of the government from the sufferings of the majority of her citizens while at the same time exploiting them and bringing returns to the government, it requires honest and passionate Abians who can through synergy of sincerity and hard work halt the speedy drift of Abia by uprooting the anti people stronghold that has continued to suffocate our democracy and arrest our economic growth.
Dr. Ikpeazu has given Abians more than enough reasons to question his seriousness, sincerity, and above all his claim of rich understanding of the massive challenges confronting Abia before his assumption of office, this accounts for the continuous summersault in policy, utterances, and actions.
After telling Abians that the failed 30billion naira loan was for infrastructural development, his government turned back to claim that it was aimed at clearing our old debts, he has so far failed to pay Abia workers as at when due let alone paying them on the 24th of every month as he earlier promised, he failed to celebrate his hundred days in office with the commissioning of any single road in Aba against his promise of commissioning seven roads, the showmanship scam called the Dredging of Aba(Water Side River) has since ended with the so called contractors disappearing to the land of the gods, Staff of ABSU Secondary school are still owed 8 to 9 months salaries without any genuine attempt to look into their plights, a doubting Thomas should make genuine and unbiased enquiries and find out if there are more touts and thugs on the streets now or not, the intimidations and exploitations of the previous regimes remain the order of the day, of course Dr. Ikpeazu and his Okezue Abia team are continuing their tragic comedy of searching for the missing and unwilling investors in the US to come and invest in my stinking and sinking Abia.
The pertinent questions are; has the present government shown any sign of frugality in the management of the resources of the state? Has the government come up with a serious master plan to overhaul the rotten style of governance in Abia? Has the Government been bold enough to call the bluff of the destructive Abia thugs and urchins the way Obiano did in Anambra? Has he initiated any move to recover our commonwealth that developed wings during the tenure of his predecessor? Has he been running an honorable government where his word is his bond?. Abians are asking pertinent questions, unfortunately the desired answers are not coming forth, but we shall match on until Abia is completely extricated from the grip of the yoke masters.
Ferdinand Ekeoma is an aide to the Chairman of APGA in Abia AState