CIVIL SERVANTS in Imo State, have embarked on prayer and fasting begging God to touch the heart of Governor Rochas Okorocha to pay them their salaries. The civil servants in the Imo State House of Assembly who had their own prayer session concluded recently, said that they had no other alternative than to plead with God Almighty to divinely intervene in their present predicament.
At the time of this prayer and fasting session, the civil servants said that they were owed seven months salary arrears adding that in their present situation, it was very difficult for them to fulfill their financial responsibilities to their respective families, owing to the fact that they had not been paid their salaries for long. They also pointed out that the only possible alternative was for them, to ask God to divinely intervene in their difficulties.
Also, the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria, JUSUN, Imo State, is currently on strike for the same reason of a lack of payment of salaries, not only that, they also lamented bitterly against the decision of the Imo state government to slash the salaries of the magistrates in the state, adding that such a move by the government was an impeachable offence advising that, instead of the salaries of the magistrates to be slashed that Governor Rochas Okorocha ought to emulate from his predecessors Chief Achike Udenwa and Chief Ikedi Ohakim who improved on their package for magistrate during their tenures.
Citing the provisions of the constitution that may lead to impeaching the governor, on the slashing of the salaries of the magistrate in the state, the Chairman Owerri Branch of the Nigeria Bar Association, NBA,
Stanley Chidozie Imo Esq. said in a press release made available to South East Voice that “Any reversal in the present salary structure, with the attendant effect of downgrading same will be unconscionable, punitive and brazen breach of the provisions of the1999 Constitution as amended which same is even an impeachable offence”.
Also, it is the same in the state Health sector, going by the confusion emanating from the sector, over the plan by the state government to handover the management of the public hospitals to private individuals. A step which has generated a lot of controversies and concerns from public spirited individuals. Which also, prompted a reaction from the Imo State Chairman of the Nigeria Medical Association, NMA, Dr. Emele
Hyacinth saying that its union had disagreed with state government’s plan to “sell” the hospitals. And went further to say that it was improper to commercialize the health institutions. Not even, in a situation, where the citizens are expecting improvement in the health sector, in order to have affordable and low cost health services.
But If the government finally succeeds to “commercialize” the hospitals, the NMA said that the challenges would get worse and may well reduce the standard of living of the people, given the reason that, the main purpose and goal of the new management will be based on profit making rather than to provide the basic healthcare assistance to the people.
For this not to happen, going by the sorry state of the health institutions in Imo, the NMA said that it could only be rescued from near collapse, if the government in power define properly it agenda to fund better the health institutions and as stipulated by the law.
Also, where all the rules and regulations guiding the running of public health institutions are respected that standard would be maintained. In all this, that the welfare packages of the health workers ought to be taken into serious consideration adding that, it is also discouraging to the system and may lead to monumental damage.
In a situation, where the health workers in the state, would not be given proper attention and allow for their imput in the formulation of any health policies. It is also not out of place to say that, one of the fears of the NMA , was that the government may prefer to hurriedly implement any of it policies without a proper consultation to the health personnel who know in detail the challenges facing the public health institutions. At worst, without duly considering the negative effect on the citizens of the state.
As part of the questions confronting the decision of the government that may have not been properly answered include why is it that the government thought it wise to “sell” the existing hospitals built by the past administrations and at the same time embarked on the construction of about 27 new general hospitals, in the 27 Local Government Areas in the state ?
Is it possible for health workers, in a situation where the health sector is under funded and faced with outdated facilities to perform optimally? Another pertinent question is, is it true that the ongoing new construction of 27 general hospitals, if completed will also be sold?