• accuse Govt of   diverting  fund

While Imo people continue to raise concerns over the claims and counter claims by the Governor of Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodinma and the embattled leadership of Imo pensioners over accumulated arrears of monthly pension, which have even led to the pensioners threatening the government of the day with a seven (7) days ultimatum, warning that they will organize a mother of all protests, in the event their outstanding entitlements are not paid, yesterday, Monday June 6, 2020, witnessed another embarrassing development when staff of the Imo State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (ISOPADEC), stormed Owerri for a protest.

Our reporter who witnessed the stampede gathered that the protesters before now had made several efforts to reach the governor through the Secretary to the State Government, Chief Cosmas Iwu and other stakeholders in the government, all in a bid to intimate him of the continued suffering of the workers, their families, dependants and the need for the Governor to cause their payment to be effected without further delay, but their efforts, appeals and entreaties eventually fell on deaf ears, hence their resolve to protest in Owerri.

The protesters made up of fierce-looking young men and women were spotted at the government house main entrance gate Owerri, where they insisted on having the governor address them. This affected vehicular movement for the period they were there displaying placards which showed their grievances and frustrations. Their presence caused heavy gridlock on the roads and provoked anger and bitterness among commuters.

Among their demand, is the immediate payment of their three months arrears of salary. They also reminded the governor that they are aware of the sharing formula which allocates 60% of the oil derivation fund to Imo State government and the balance of 40% to ISOPADEC for onward dispensing on human capital and infrastructure development in the oil producing communities, stating as well that since the emergence of Uzodinma, none of these conditions have been met, whereas the funds are remitted to the bank accounts of the state regularly and without any interruption or even delay.

The protesters bore placards with inscriptions; “Hope pay us our money”, “You can’t take both 40% and 60% while leaving us to die in hunger”, “13% oil derivation money,3% =#3 billion,40%= #400 milliom×6 months #2.4 billion, etc. “Give us our money”. It was not immediately confirmed if as promised the Governor has released the money for the ISOPADEC workers salaries as expected at press time.

Recall that Imo State Receives Oil Derivation Fund from Federal Government every month which runs into billions of Naira, as one of the Nine (9) Niger Delta States, or oil bearing states of the federation. Though the immediate past government of Owelle Rochas Okorocha was reckless in his determination at appropriating such derivative funds meant for oil producing areas, he nevertheless ensured regular payment of ISOPADEC workers salaries.

It was therefore little wonder how what was believed to be a new hope relief and departure from criminal acquisition of public funds by state actors in worsening the already precarious situation, by subjecting workers to pangs of hunger, anger and poverty for no just cause.