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The Youths for Human Rights Protection and Transparency Initiative (YARPTI) is sad over the condition of workers and pensioners in Imo State. Pensioners have not been paid for so many months now as the government of Imo State continue to carryout endless re-verification exercise. Workers under the employ of the Imo State government are suffering terribly. Aside the half salaries that are paid irregularly, which has disoriented the finances of most workers, many of the workers have also been put into odious debt situation by the government, thanks to non-payment of salaries and withholding of loan payments, cooperative deductions and dues. These have seen many workers having their accounts in red even when salaries are paid. Even those who are not paying any loan cannot meet their needs and those of their families as the half salaries can hardly take them home. Some workers and pensioners have died of curable diseases, due to inability to afford basic drugs, while many others are lying critically ill due to similar situation.
One of the fundamental human rights is the right to a just remuneration that ensures an existence worthy of human dignity. The preamble to the Constitution of the International Labour Organization identifies the provision of an adequate living wage as one of the conditions for universal and lasting peace based on social justice.
Attempt by the Imo state government to narrow non-payment of workers’ salaries to federal allocations coming to the state is not acceptable . Workers are not working for federal allocations but for the state and their employment letter did not state that their salaries will depend on federal allocations. Okorocha’s attempt to justify non-payment of salaries of workers on the ground of low federal allocation is horrible. This excuse is a way for him to introduce worse labour policies such as outright denial of payment of salaries, retrenchment of workers, among others.
We maintain our position that behind the financial crisis facing Imo State is the gross misappropriation and misuse of state resources. If the governor is complaining of the economic situation of the country , what about all the years that billions of naira was hitting the account of the state government from the federal allocation. We maintain that Rochas Okorocha’s government, through pro-rich, contractor-oriented policies and programmes, have ruined Imo State economy. The goal of economic management and governance of Okorocha is not to satisfy the needs of majority of the populace particularly the working people, but to maximize profits and increase the wealth of a minority rich few. That is why his system means unending poverty, misery and hardship for overwhelming majority of the society in the midst of abundance.
We wish to ask the governor of Imo State if development is all about beautification of the state capital of Owerri. What about rural communities of the state? Communities in Imo State are in comatose. This shows how the state finances have been wasted and mismanaged. Uplifting the living standards of the masses and improving education, health, housing, roads and providing other basic necessities for rural communities is the last in his calculations.
in spite of all the billions claimed to have been spent on free education, more than 95 percent of public primary and secondary schools in Imo communities are in terrible conditions with dilapidated buildings and no functional facilities for learning and teaching; while tertiary institutions in the state are poorly funded. We say No to this.
Kenneth Uwadi
Youths for Human Rights Protection and Transparency Initiative (YARPTI)

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