Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State on Wednesday justified his decision to stop the salaries of a sizeable number of the state’s workforce, saying though the decision may be unpopular, it was in the best interest of the state.
The governor had in a statement on January 17, announced the stoppage of salaries to workers in 19 parastatals, agencies and departments in the state with effect from January 4, a directive the affected workers ignored as they resumed for official duties.
Okorocha, who just returned from an overseas trip, noted that the amount paid by the state as salary every month is far in excess of what accrues to the state from the Federation Account.
According to him, Imo collects the smallest Federal Allocation among the states in the Southeast but has the highest salary structure, adding that, “in December Imo get N1.9 billion and our monthly wage bill was N4.2 billion and we cannot continue to operate with this deficit. Our five oils wells are shutdown, I have been managing this situation for long time because I don’t want outsiders to know our true financial position. The decision we took to suspend indolent and lazy workers is in the best interest of the state”.
He further warned that no worker will frustrate the state government anymore, stressing that, “this bogus salary scale was smuggled in by the civil servants shortly before I took over. If salary payment is for compensation then we should share the Allocation among all Imo people monthly. We cannot continue to source for N3 billion monthly to pay salaries every month. The only saving grace is the Local Government Allocation”.
Meanwhile, Governor Okorocha assured that his administration will complete the abandoned Oak Refinery started by his predecessor, Chief Ikedi Ohakim as part of the industrial drive of the state government.
Giving assurance during an interactive session with journalists at the Government House, Okorocha said he had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Chinese experts concerning the construction of the Refinery, as a continuation of his discussions with the Federal Government on the need to build a refinery in the state.