Withraws Statement Describing Workers As Ghosts

The Imo State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Hon Chief Declan Emelumba, who seems to take pleasure and delight in controversies, has eventually withdrawn his statement that described Imo state workers and retirees who have been protesting the non-payment of their several arrears of salaries and pensions as ghosts.

The Commissioner who featured in an Oziza 96.1 FM Radio Station Owerri Programme on Wednesday 5th August, 2020, claimed that, at no time did he refer to Imo workers, pensioners as ghosts. He accused the media house of bias and advised the presenter of the programme to stop reading only Newspaper headlines while reviewing daily Newspaper editions, because some media houses perhaps deliberately cast sensational headlines to make sales. Emelumba was indirectly referring to Nigeria Watchdog Newspaper that has constantly highlighted and championed the cause of frustrated, depressed and deprived Imo workers and pensioners, who have for the past five (5) months resorted to protest to draw the attention of Imo Governor to the non-payment of arrears of their entitlements.

He said that those who clashed at the recent pensioners protest were indeed pensioners and not agents of government as insinuated in some quarters, and that those who protested were a faction of pensioners.

The Honourable Commissioner for the first time acknowledged that some pensioners are actually owed arrears of monthly pensions but assured that they will all be paid in due course. He however, claimed that, “most of those who have not been paid, are those who presented fake BVN numbers and fake bank account details, a situation that has made it difficult for the state government to properly sort out issues in line with her determination to sanitize the system and ensure probity”. It is hoped that he will not deny accusing some Imo workers of presenting fake BVNs, account details.

Emelumba said the incessant protests have become suspicious and felt highly convinced that some people are behind them for ulterior motives just like Okorocha once accused acidic rains of destroying his poorly constructed roads.

It will be recalled that the Commissioner who seems to have a penchant for speaking from both sides of his mouth, had at the emergence of Governor Hope Uzodinma, issued a press statement where he claimed that the state government had uncovered a number of ghost workers through whose earnings huge amounts were siphoned. He even reported that the Hope Uzodinma led government is presently saving N2 billion monthly through the discovery and elimination of ghost workers. To make the matter worst, he overhauled the council administrative set up, whereby all the DAGs, Treasures and Cashiers were immediately redeployed, some redesignated and others reassigned.

He also accused one of the firms  fraudulently misappropriating the sum of N320 million through the local government system, a claim the company promptly debunked. He did not stop at that. He accused a certain company of siphoning billions of naira of Imo council funds, whereas he was part of the government team that took delivery of heavy duty equipment imported with the money.

It is also on record and was widely reported in the print and electronic media, that Chief Emelumba called those protesting over non-payment of arrears of salary as ghost workers.

Emelumba, had also, at the peak of the protests at Imo State University Owerri, over non-payment of pensions asserted that the staff were owed salaries because the Vice Chancellor’s son was the person in charge of the collection of school fees, whereas as at the time he was appointed the free education programme of Okorocha, was still in place. He had also earlier claimed that all civil servants in the state had been paid their salaries up to date and that the state government was not owing anybody a kobo. But this claim was later found to be white lies.

For instance, some staff of Imo Broadcasting Corporation, who spoke on condition of anonymity said, “Chief Emelumba directed the management of Imo Broadcasting Corporation, a parastatal under his ministry to sack Barr (Mrs) Vivian Ottih, a nursing mother for requesting to be paid arrears of her three (3) months salary. Now exposed, he mobilized spineless labour leaders to deny and discredit Mrs Ottih. Till date, Emelumba claims not to be involved in the sack of the innocent woman, whose only offence was asking for her statutory entitlement from a colleague of her, who was appointed into the shared prosperity government and it is yet to be ascertained from which planet Emelumba invented her name. retired Permanent Secretary, Uba Osigwe has also proved Mbadiwe Declan Emelumba to be a purvey of falsehood, when he courageously proved that he never received such outrageous amounts associated with his pension package by Emelumba. Now, he has denied referring to protesting Imo civil servants as pensioners. Why does he like being inconsistent?”

It must be noted that, Chief Emelumba, a former Imo House of Assembly member had in a press statement accused former Governor Ihedioha of embezzling N19.63 billion. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Imo State however, promptly debunked the allegation and the Auditor General too. Recently, he claimed that the sum of N220 million of Imo state funds, was paid to eight (8) people, who fraudulently received it. Those said to be involved in the alleged scam, have also in several press releases described the allegation as false, and inconsequential. One Theresa Emenalo, who was mentioned in the purported pension scam, was never a civil servant.

The Commissioner who thrives in controversy, also recently claimed that, a fraudulent act that involves the sum of N12.3 billion was uncovered, while going through the records of ISOPADEC. Infact, he particularly mentioned Emeka Ihedioha as fleecing ISOPADEC of N3 billion in six (6) months out of the N12.3 billion

Some PDP stalwarts and keen observers of unfolding drama happenings in the Imo State political landscape, who spoke to this reporter on condition of anonymity, called on the Hope Uzodinma to desist from buck passing, blame game and unnecessary media trial. They challenged the Governor to courageously prosecute all those he accused of embezzlement, financial recklessness, improprieties and malfeasances, including those he accused of siphoning N200 million, if indeed he is not the greatest joker of the year 2020.

According to them, “the state government’s failure to take a decisive action against all those Emelumba fingered in the purported fraudulent acts portrays him as an unserious pathological liar and unrepentant propagandist.

Besides, they could not understand why the short-lived Ihedioha administration was able to pay salaries and pensions regularly, despite the alleged bloated wage bills, escalating pension figures whereas the present government which claims to have discovered the sources through which no less than N2 billion among other funds are now saved monthly, is handicapped financially. Where are all these monies and why is the state government still owing arrears of salaries and pensions?”, they queried, shaking their heads in disbelief.