Imo civil servants under the aegis of Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), have appealed passionately to the Spiritual Director of Adoration Ministries Enugu, Rev Fr Ejike Mbaka to prevail on Governor Hope Uzodinma, whose emergence he prophesied will turn around the fortunes of Imo people, to pay them their salaries.

The Save Our Soul (SOS) appeal, was contained in a petition dated 6th August, 2020, signed by the State Secretary of NULGE, Comrade Victor Adebayo, addressed to Rev Fr Ejike Mbaka, and made available to our reporter on condition of anonymity by a Rev Father, who hails from Imo State and works with Fr Mbaka at Adoration Ministry.

The workers, lamented in the petition that, “most local government workers have not been paid since March till date, while some were paid one month salary. In all, only about 20% of the entire workforce have received their salaries upto date.

They noted that, in some local government councils like Orlu, all staff of the health department and CONHESS staff of the Agric department have not been paid since March, while, in Oguta and Oru East LGAs, government has continued to approve payment of salary to only about 60 out of the entire workforce of about 400 staff, thereby subjecting the rest to untold hardship, lack and deprivation.

In Oru West, only 16 staff out of the 400 staff on the councils payroll have been paid upto date while other staff are still owed several months arrears of salary. The pitiable story is the same in all LGAs in the state”.

They berated the state government for giving flimsy and untenable excuses for inability to be alive to it’s cardinal responsibility to Imo workers. “They initially said that those who were not paid salaries either did not submit their BVN numbers or submitted incorrect BVN numbers and account details”.

“But some of those accused of submitting wrong BVN numbers and accounts details had received salaries once or twice after providing the required information. With which BVNs and through which account numbers were they paid them?”.

They condemned the insensitive and overbearing attitude of the Permanent Secretary, Local Government Service Commission, Dr (Mrs) Rosemary Izuogu, who claimed to be acting on the directive of the Governor, stormed the secretariat of some local government area councils with some people unannounced and ordered the staff to appear before them for a verification exercise, contrary to the Governor’s sit at home directive that all offices, markets and other public places should be locked because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Government’s directive that all offices, markets and public places should remain closed, while all civil/public servants should remain at home, was publicized through sponsored radio announcements/press releases, newspaper publications and government circulars. All boundaries leading to Imo State were consequently closed”.

“NULGE, as a responsible and responsive union, directed her members to obey government’s directives. Surprisingly, some people led by the Permanent Secretary, Local Government Service Commission, Dr (Mrs) Izuogu, purporting to be acting on the Governor’s directive, invaded some LGA council headquarters unannounced and ordered the staff to appear for a verification exercise”.

“Comrade Nwajiuba Stephen and Comrade Eze Njoku, NULGE Chairmen for Obowo and Aboh Mbaise, respectively, who pleaded for a new date, as staff were not aware of her unannounced visit, were maliciously labeled as rebels and subsequently suspended indefinitely from service”.

They stated that inspite of the dangers involved, NULGE directed staff to honour the verification exercise and pleaded that those who were outside the state for one reason or the other, be verified on their return when the borders are re-opened. “The exercise was concluded in their absence and there has not been a mop up exercise till date”.

They pleaded with Fr Mbaka to appeal to the Governor, to allow some of their members who were not verified because they were outside the state then and came back after the temporary relaxation of the lockdown and re-opening of borders to be given a chance.

“We implore the Governor, to recall the suspended staff of NULGE, in line with the provisions of fair hearing, as contained in the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and allow those yet to be verified to do. This, will in no small measure, enhance industrial, peace and harmony in the state”.

The Imo State born Rev Fr, who made a copy of the petition available to Nigeria Watchdog, regretted that, his principal, Father Ejike Mbaka seems to be presently helpless, as Governor Uzodinma no longer answer his phone calls. “Infact, we are all surprised that Senator Uzodinma who prior to his emergence, was always on phone with Fr Mbaka, has frustrated all efforts by the latter to see him one on one for discussion about the deplorable state of affairs in Imo state and the plight of famished and frustrated Imolites, especially civil servants and pensioners.Even the list sent to Uzodinma  for appointment has not been honoured.Those whose names were submitted come here on daily basis to follow up ”.

The Rev Father who also expressed disappointment over Governor Uzodinma’s insensitive and ungrateful disposition revealed that the workers have approached him to facilitate a special prayer session for them at Adoration Centre, Enugu. “This according to them, is because their plight has become pathetic worrisome and unbearable”.

He also noted that, “not even a single person in the list of names Fr Mbaka compiled and sent to Governor Uzodinma, has been considered for appointment or any kind of favour”.