The ongoing strike action embarked upon by the Imo State workers as a result of their unpaid salaries must have added more injuries to the economic woes of the state.
Government offices and activities were shut down since Tuesday and by implication, internally generated revenue must have been adversely affected.
Observers are of the view that if Governor Rochas Okorocha had approached the issue with more maturity, the workers who have probably sheathed their sword.
It would be recalled that early this month, President Muhammadu Buhari approved a comprehensive relief package to end the lingering burden of unpaid workers’ salaries in several states of the federation.
It was gathered that Buhari okayed a three-pronged relief package including sharing of fresh allocations, granting of soft loans and restructuring of states’ debt-servicing payments.
A total sum of N413.7billion (about $2.1b), sourced from recent Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) proceeds to the federation account was expected to be shared between the states and the federal government. This largess was termed as a soft loan for states to pay the backlog of salaries.
But contrary to this developemnt, some states disclosed that they did not receive the package.
In Imo State, an All Progressives Congress (APC)-led government, it was alleged that workers had to go on strike when they heard that the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-led government in Abia State had begun offsetting its workers’ salary arrears with its share of the bailout fund.
Okorocha’s Chief Press Secretary, Sam Onwuemeodo, had said the governor accused blackmailers of inciting the workers, using the bailout as basis.
Governor Okorocha urged the workers to consider his consistency in the past and the Christmas bonuses he had given them, noting that the nation’s economic difficulties have made the irregular payment of salaries inevitable.
Though the bailout package elicited commendations from some eminent Nigerians, who, however, urged leaders to be prudent in the management of the scarce resources, it is not clear whether all the hands involved in this sharing project are clean.
If an APC-led government of Imo State could be a victim of workers strike action despite the glorified promises of relief package by the presidency, its God-head, critics are of the opinion that there is an urgent need for Buhari to look inwardly and reset his machineries of change.
Okorocha had declared that the precarious financial status of the state was on the alleged fraudulent activities of political appointees, senior staff of ministries and parastatals, as well as local government workers.
“The internally generated revenue of the state government is about the least in Nigeria, as a result of fraudulent activities of the political appointees, senior staff of ministries, parastatals and local government workers. My administration will deal ruthlessly with anybody caught in the act,” he said.
He indirectly indicted his administration as he revealed his government had been paying salaries to ghost workers and dead people. Perhaps the presidency has also noted this comment in the course of making a fulfilled change.