…Also the sacking of staff of LGCs
Governor Okorocha’s second tenure which kicked off on May 29th, 2015 has been marked by incessant protestations and outbursts from the various social clusters in the political spectrum in Imo State. This rancorous cat and mouse relationship is traceable to the fact that Governor Okorocha made it clear from the podium of his second tenure inauguration that “Imo State is broke” and that it would not be business as usual. He called on the people to tighten their belts in order to absorb the policies consequent in the downturn of the economy. In keeping with this caveat that “Imo State is Broke” the governor rolled out a number of decisions which sparked off anguish and bedlam, especially, among those who are on the government’s pay roll. In fact, in what some analysts described as “New Year Gift”, Governor Okorocha was alleged to have sacked or suspended thousands of workers without following due process/civil service guidelines and with no iota of palliative arrangements to enable the affected workers cushion the effect of his stringent policy. Since then, Imo State Government has known no peace. The sad battle of vociferous vituperations from both sides took a crescendo when the organized labour swooped on Imo State capital, Owerri, in the first quarter of 2016(about February or so) and shut it down completely thus grinding all economic activities to a halt. In a bid to appease and mollify them, they were able to snatch an accord with the state government that 70 percent of the monthly revenue of Imo State would be used to service recurrent expenditure i.e settlement of salary and miscellaneous matters. It appears the government was really overwhelmed by the combative approach of the Nigerian Labour Congress, hence he surrendered 70 percent of his monthly revenue to a group that is less than 1% of Imo State. It appeared that Governor Okorocha took that decision in a state of panic. It is vexatious that Governor Okorocha succumbed to the blackmail of ceding out 70 per cent of the state’s commonwealth to a tiny cabal that is not up to 0.5 per cent of Imo State. Since that episode in February 2016, there has been a concatenation of events thus incessantly pitting the state governor in a dangerous infighting culminating in eyes brows being raised, fists and punches being thrown at each other at various fora. The latest in the list include the alleged signing of a document by each pensioner to forego or cede 60 per cent of his pension arrears to the State and be paid 40 per cent of the accrued amount. Another episode is the alleged sack or suspension of thousands of staff of the Local government councils- an action which is still oven fresh. Those who allege that local government staff were sacked have not been able to tell us the actual number affected. We have read between 1000 to 4000 staff but the governor maintains that he did not sack any staff. These issues will be discussed more elaborately but for now, I wish to take a general purview of the situation pending when the issues will be analysed individually.
The theory of wage determination predicts that a long term improvement in wages can only be sustained by increases in labour productivity. In the absence of increases in productivity, the labour is faced with the choice between current wage being maintained over the long term or higher wages resulting in fewer workers being employed. Again, you cannot do justice to this discussion of the so-called controversial policies of Governor Okorocha in his second tenure if you continue to look at it as an isolated case of Imo State instead of looking at from the concept of strategic turnaround policy of a failed business organization, IMO STATE PLC. In era of globalization, one must look beyond one’s immediate ambience in order to handle this issue frontally. In fact, if one must discuss this issue thoroughly, one must draw from what transpired in the era of THATCHERNOMICS in Britain when the British economy was driven by the economic templates of privatization, commercialization and liberalization. During that era, that Margaret Thatcher was the Prime Minister of Britain, she had a tempestuous encounter with the organized labour, especially the coal miners led by MR.Scargill. After one year of tempestuous strike the coal miners returned to work when it dawned on them that the IRON LADY, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher would not budge. In fact, what Governor Okorocha is going through now was exactly what transpired between Margaret Thatcher and organized labour in Britain. As in Imo State where this is happening in Governor Okorocha’s last tenure, Margaret Thatcher’s power- play with labour happened in the last days of his eleven glorious years as Prime Minister.
The Law of Diminishing Returns: This law which was propounded by the great scholar and economist, David Ricardo, is in fact as famous as the Law of gravity in Physics. Both laws-The Law of Diminishing Returns and The Law of Gravity- are immutable and cannot be wished away in the two fields of economy and physics. Whoever wishes to wish away the immutability of both laws in the two core areas does so to his own peril. This law which was observed first in agriculture marked a historic advance in the history of economics. The Law states that in a given state of technology, the addition of a variable factor of production keeping the other factors of production fixed will yield increasing marginal returns per unit of the variable factor added until an input point is reached beyond which further addition of the variable factor will yield diminishing marginal returns. This law is known as the law of variable proportion.
Perhaps, we must take cognizance of the fact that the demand for labour is not permanently elastic and that labour is demanded for what it can produce, hence the demand for labour is said to be a derived demand. No organization goes on employing fresh entrants even when the virus of diminishing marginal returns has set in. A political leader in a digital cluster is bound to take notice of the economic theories in his bid to run a modern economy, unless, of course, such a leader wishes to run a voodoo economy. In an environment of recession, inflation, stagflation etc, there is a dire need to understand the workings of the theories of the Monetarists, the Keynesians and Ricardo’s doctrine on the Law of Variable Proportions .
It is unfortunate that the workforce which is made up of the knowledge group are pandering to embrace the magic of numbers hence they romanticise with the idea of a minimum wage of N50,000/N100,000 per month even in the midst of hyper inflationary spiral. Today, our organized labour appears to be more interested on money value and not real value of wages. They have forgotten that long before now, the Keynesians and Monetarist have always been at daggers drawn on the best way to checkmate a failed economic system from running amok. We have forgotten so soon all the classroom lectures on the impact of the Production Possibility Frontier or Curve(aka PPF) in macroeconomic management of the economy. This PPF concept teaches that it is not possible to expand the production level in a given system unless you have effected some critical breakthroughs through technology or innovation. Until you make some breakthrough through innovation and technology, you must continue to limit your level of output within the Production Possibility Curve(PPC/ PPF). You cannot expand outside the PPC, ceteris paribus. Although I am a faithful of the contingency doctrine in management which espouses that there is no one best way to resolve an issue in the workplace, it is also my candid opinion that the numerous theories derived from micro/macro economics and the Management Theory Jungle(from management class) cannot be wished away on the grounds of whatever expediencies or exigencies that crop up in the workplace. There should be some symbiotic relationship between what the classroom text says and the practical realities in the workplace; none shall be a wolf unto the other.
In spite of its harsh realities, there is a need to confront the nagging issue of rightsizing the workforce and the concomitant bogey of ghost worker syndrome in the IMO STATE PLC. Discussing this issue has become a no-go area because of its emotive underpinnings. As a result of the wish to be called “the boy is good”, only a handful of people can summon courage to throw their hats into the ring and pick the gauntlet to make even a passing comment in favour of any aspect of Governor Okorocha’s policies on rightsizing the Imo State PLC. Everybody is scared to be seen saying an atom of truth in favour of the state governor. Whoever is seen making an analysis that makes even a passing favourable comment on any aspect of Governor Okorocha’s policy on the rightsizing/rationalization of the workforce is hunted down and derided as a misanthrope-a hater of humanity.
The operating environment in Imo State has become so harsh that it does not tolerate any scintilla of objective truth. The only way to be celebrated as a man of the people in Imo State today is to carry cudgels, machetes clubs warts and all and join the hue and cry in the bid to decapitate the head of the state governor who is now seen as intrinsically bad and bad whole and entire. It is so pathetic that even our academics who are in the safe comfort of the academia/ivory towers are afraid to join the debate in order to throw more light on their opinion on the ongoing crisis in the management approach of the state governor in his effort to turnaround the sagging fortunes of IMO STATE PLC.Why have our modern day Adam Smiths, David Ricardo, and Samuelsons maintained a conspiracy of silence on the economic model that can inject life into our collapsing Imo State PLC.
As a result of some comments I made on the new media(face book /websites/twitter), a group forwarded a questionnaire to my inbox and demanded my response to some issues that are pertinent to the economic policies of Governor Okorocha. They asked such questions as:”Why do you say that Governor Okorocha is not intrinsically bad and bad? Do you support his 40:60 policy on pension payment? What do you think about his 70:30 policy for payment of civil servants’ salaries? Do you support the sacking of over 4000 workers in the Local Government Service? What is your opinion on Okorochas’s Urban Renewal policy? What is your opinion on the controversial Ohakim’s 10000 which Gov Okorocha abrogated? In one of your viewpoints, you descended hard on the PDP, even when available records show you were supportive of regime change in 2015.So, what happened? Governor Okorocha is presently employing about another 10,000 staff in the civil service, do you support it or is it the same as the failed 10,000 Ohakim workers? These are just some of the questions. I don’t know why this group targeted those posers on me, more so, since I am not on the pay roll of Governor Okorocha or even in a consultancy relationship with the Douglas House. Such questions are better sent to the Humble Commissioner for Information, Engineer Obinna Nshirim and the indefatigable Chief Press Secretary(CPS) to the governor, MR. Sam Onwuemeodo and others. Well, in spite of everything, I do not want to be stampeded out of my profession of the Fourth Estate. So, I will respond to those questions presently; it does not matter what anybody may feel. What is important is whether what we write reflects our conscience or not. The Bible did say that once our conscience has not condemned us, we have not sinned.
In conclusion, it is pertinent to state that Governor Okorocha’s war on ghost workers in the Local Government is belated, yet very appropriate because it’s better late than never. Those who will benefit from a small workforce of people with cutting edge technology are those who will succeed him. Yes, while he is taking the flaks now, the future governors in Imo State and indeed the generality of Imo state will benefit from the ongoing war on flushing out ghost workers from the system. Long before now, I had maintained that the Imo State workforce is overbloated and there is no alternative to hunting down the ghost workers and trimming the workforce to reflect sustainable standards The war against the cankerworm of ghost workers is as old as the present Imo State. As governors, Chief Achike Udenwa and Chief Ikedi Ohakim made efforts to extirpate it from IMO STATE PLC but they did not have the political will to actualize it. If Governor Okorocha is now ready to confront it, he should go ahead as long as due process is observed. I have been investigating what happened in the recent staff rationalisation in the local government councils. Soon, I will discuss this issue more elaborately in line with my research findings.