Says: Is  Disjointed, Poorly Articulated policies

A renowned human rights activist and former President, Association of Retired Permanent Secretaries, Chief F.I Agba, has described the proposed #40,000 minimum wage for Imo workers by the Imo State government and the #8,000 eight thousand naira proposed by the federal government as palliative for 12million indigent families as disjointed and poorly articulated policies that will not yield desired result.

“They are also illegal because, the Governor, by virtue of section 162 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended has no right to disburse the funds of the state without the approval of the House of Assembly”.

Agba, a seasoned technocrat, also blamed the government for not striking a balance between palliative and subsidy, thereby confusing majority of the people who do not know the difference. Hence, they have left the core issue of illegality to discuss the insufficiency of the amount”.

According to him, “subsidy is a normal grant by government to its citizens in the areas of education, petrol, health etc. It is done by government all over the world, while palliative is something done or offered to ameliorate the effect of a situation on the recipients”.

‘’On this note, how can the Imo State government  that has unleashed hunger, lack and deprivation of thousands of people who are owed as much as 8 months arrears of salary and between 48 and 52 months arrears of pensions through the proposed #40,000 minimum wage or the additional #10,000 to the #18,000 minimum wages?

“From where will the money come from? Was it kept in the bank all this while or what? Was it captured in this year’s budget? Even if all these questions are answered in the affirmative, the Governor does not have the right to disburse it without the approval of the State House of Assembly because the money is not from his pocket”.

“The issue of the #8,000 monthly, proposed by the federal government for 12million families is a national disgrace. How can you give palliative to a person who is not suffering the effect of the removal of petrol subsidy? Those suffering the effect are those who own vehicles and generators.

“It is also wrong to categorize Nigerians into legislators, Judges and so on. Come to think of it, what is the common denominator between legislators and judges that qualify them to receive palliative? Is it their poverty or wealth?”

“The judges have official vehicles that are fuelled by government while the legislators, even if their vehicles are not fuelled by government, can comfortably do that with their jumbo salaries and allowances.

“If the policy was well articulated the best thing would have been to make the roads motorable for the fuel one buys to last longer and also construct railway lines. There ought to have been a long term plan rather than the fire brigage approach that has dislocated the system and caused problems for the people who are not prepared for the shock.

“Our epileptic and inefficient telephone system ought to have been also upgraded and made more efficient and optimally functional. This is also a form of palliative because it has the tendency to reduce money spent on transportation.

“It is laughable that the Imo State government that has been unable to regularly pay the #18,000 minimum wage, when some pensioners earn as little as #10, 000 and #15,000 monthly are owed arrears of between 30 and 40 months, is not talking of paying #40,000 minimum wage.

“As I speak to you now, the government is owing me 48 months arrears of pension while my late wife was owed 52 months arrears of pension.

“If the government is actually sincere about alleviating poverty, offering palliative or whatever they choose to call it, there are areas they should address rather than playing to the gallery. For instance, the last time harmonization was done in Imo State was in 2003 while Section 210 of the constitution says that harmonization should be done every five years.

Are those suffering the consequences of government’s refusal or failure to harmonize as stipulated in the constitution among those who the government wants to offer palliative? If they enjoy the harmonization and are paid their pensions regularly, they would no longer bother their children and relatives for upkeep allowance. Those ones, will in turn save the money they spend on their aged relatives. Honestly, there is no better palliative than this”.

The retired career civil servant and financial expert, further posited that, “the Rochas Okorocha administration complicated pension administration in Imo State. We expected that the Uzodinma administration, on assumption of office, will set up a judicial panel of inquiry to streamline and sanitize the process.

There are charges that are not subject to annual approval and pension is one of them. If that is the case, where are all the money that Rochas Okorocha did not pay? If the government is serious and sincere, it should make enquires and address the situation”, Agba stated.