If the current move by the Imo State governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha is anything to go by, then the fate of over 13,000 local government workers in the state now hangs in the balance.
This followed the recent issuance of queries to majority of the 27 LGA workers by the State Government, which as learnt, is the beginning of a process to relieve the workers of their duties.
This recent move by Governor Okorocha to sack the local government workers is coming after he had made unsuccessful effort to sack of about 3000 civil servants in the state last year.
The governor is also currently slashing pensions payment of Imo retirees down to 40 percent, a move that has not gone down well with the senior citizens.
This time around, the governor wants to achieve this objective through the Local Government Service Commission (LGSC). On resumption of work Tuesday, January 10, 2017, many staff of the Imo State Local Government system were handed queries most of which were based on poor staff attendance to work between the months of February and August 2016.
According to a copy of one of the queries signed on behalf of the chairman of the Imo State Local Government Service Commission by the permanent secretary/secretary of the commission, Mrs. B.I. Uwandu-Uzoma, the attendance to duty of the workers for 2016 amounted only to 48.30 percent.
The query dated November 22, 2016 and addressed to the workers through the transition committee chairmen of the 27 council areas of the state states in part: “I am directed to refer to attendance register between the months of February and August 2016 and to observe that your attendance to duty is only 48.30 percent
“In consideration of the above, you are directed to explain within 48 hours of the receipt of this query why disciplinary action will not be taken against you for breach of PSR 04401 sub-section 111. Your presentation should explain why the imposition of the full penalty will not be meted out to you in accordance with 04412”.
According to a top staff of the LGSC in Owerri who craved anonymity, described the query as a ‘Surprise New Year Gift’ from the Rescue Mission government of Governor Rochas Okorocha.
She said however that the full penalty for contravening the PSR 04401 is dismissal “and there is nothing anyone can do about it since they have all run foul of the law. This is what the governor has been hammering since last year that anyone whose attendance to duty is not up to 60 percent will sacked.”
Also speaking, one of the local government workers said the authorities of the Local Government Service Commission and the Imo State Government were pretending not to know that there was a period last year (2016) and even 2015 when salaries were not paid for nearly five months, noting that most of them narrowly escaped death via starvation as they could no longer fend for their families let alone borrowing money to go to work on daily basis.
In spite of that pitiable condition, many of them were still making effort to go to work, he lamented, even as he called on the state government and authorities of the 27 LGAs in Imo to give governance a human face.
Confirming this development, the Imo State Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees, NULGE, Comrade Ndubisi Uchehara told our reporter that the queries issued to his members bordered on rate of attendance and that NULGE leadership in the state had already started talks with the Imo State Government with a view to making the government rescind the decision.
Comrade Uchehara further expressed hope that his discussion with Governor Okorocha would be fruitful and he therefore called for calm among his members.