(FACT-CHECK) IKPEAZU’S SUDDEN LOVE FOR ABIA WORKERS: A Destructive Blessing
*When a naked man promises you a dress…
By Charity Uwakwe
During my secondary school days and in one of the subjects- Literature, I had come across a certain word “Oxymoron”. I loved this word so much that when we were told the meaning, it stuck more deeply in my heart than all other figurative language tools
Oxymoron, I was taught, simply means “the lying side -by side of two contradictory words. One of the illustrations that I also had stuck in my head was “A destructive blessing”. At first, I was taken aback when I read it on the chalk board. And, even as I write now, I could still reminisce my literature teacher, standing before the class of over sixty students, and backing us, while she scribbles down the interesting word, ‘Oxymoron’.
Fast forward to the melodrama that is currently raising dust in Abia state, the self-acclaimed ‘God’s own state! I am unapologetic of my diction here although that would be an issue for another day-
Recently, a video had gone viral on the social media wherein some aggrieved youths of Umuobiakwa, in Obingwa Local Government Area of Abia state, the immediate community of the Governor, Dr. Okezie Victor Ikpeazu, were seen, booing and jeering at the latter and calling on EFCC to quickly come for his arrest. This was no sooner than it was announced that the incumbent Governor had lost his senatorial bid to the incumbent Senator, Enyinnaya Abaribe.
Meanwhile, earlier, when I stumbled into a report about the Governor’s ambition for the senatorial seat…I could not help but laugh hysterically. I couldn’t fathom a guess of what in the world the governor thinks about Abians particularly the teaming impoverished and unemployed youths under his goverment.
The one billion and one dollar questions that reverberated in my mind was “who is Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu’s best friend; who are his close friends; who really are his Special Advisers? And the thought that the Governor even has Senior special Advisers hurts even more than it angers. What roles do they play in, at least his life and particularly in his government? I began to wonder. Indeed, “a big name that kills the rat”, a tiny voice had whispered into my ears as I craved for an answer and my heart bled profusely.
I have a flood of questions for Ikpeazu. What was on the governor’s mind when he opted for the Senatorial seat? How in high heavens did he think he could have a bulk of Abia votes again especially in his immediate community who do not take pleasure in his government, considering the devastating condition that visibly cuts across the nooks and crannies of the State?
If you permit me to speak telepathically and devoid of sentiment, whatsoever, I would state without mincing words that Ikpeazu’s sudden messianic display, hence the extemporaneous promotion of Abia workers barely three months to the expiration of his tenure and after loosing out in an election he so desired for, glaringly spews vendetta unless he intends to reverse it before his departure.
Otherwise, this is a clear illustration of an adage: “when a naked man promises you clothes, beware” and I add, “it might be dangerous”, you know what I mean though!
Show me a governor whose
administration from inception is characterised by infrastructural dilapidation, non-payment of salaries, and pension (a demonic act, which has regrettably resulted in the death of some pensioners), and I will show you a governor who is outrightly insensitive to the yearnings of the people whom he had sworn to take care of.
This is a government that in the past eight years has brought nothing but penury, agonies and pains upon the masses and suddenly, you have turned around to become the long anticipated Messiah. You could take that to the birds. (Giggles…)
Well, while I pondered over this unsolicited, unwarranted magnanimous deed of Mr. Governor, I figured that he perhaps wanted to patronise the conscience of the unsuspecting, frustrated and depressed workers who feed from hands to mouth.
If Ikpeazu was really remorseful about the piteous state his government has thrown Abians into and perhaps wanted to live a legacy, which is obviously lacking in this adminstration, I think, if I were one of the Aides or a bosom friend of our dear Governor, I would politely advise pleadingly that he clears the arrears of salaries and pensions. At least, if not for anything at all, for posterity. Also, for our aged parents to pray for him. But, hell no!
My dear Governor whom I love, though from afar, resorted to promoting the seemingly non-salary earning civil servants and I ask again; Mr. Governor, who will clear your arrears of salaries and pensions. What would you likely be remembered for, dear Governor?
I even have read in the news where the senior citizens had cried to you, begging you to reduce your security vote so as to be able to take care of them. Dear Governor, how would you feel if either of these poor pensioners were your mum or dad? Can you watch them groan in pains and sorrows? How I wish our politicians have a conscience. (Sighs in despair).
Mr. Governor, what would you be remembered for as you leaveve office, sir when your tenure expires finally on May 29? Remember You are not going to Senate anymore.
So, who will pay your debt and what about the promotion?
A popular maxim has it that: ‘Thirst for water cannot be quenched with wine’. And that ‘only a mad man runs after the rat while his house is on fire’. This recent proclamation of the Governor is another’white elephant project’ intended to sink workers in a deeper state of melancholy and I advise they don’t make a fuss about it. It won’t work. I repeat, it holds no water, just like the proverbial ‘basket that can never hold water’. It’s unheard of!
I still have a deluge of questions for the Governor and one of them is: Mr. Governor, among the flock of protesters who flooded the capital of the state, looking haggard and dejected by your government, have you ever read or heard that one of their placards had any inscription demanding for promotion, sir?
Well, I know my Governor is an intelligent man and definitely, the answer is already echoing in his sound mind.
Sir, the last time I checked, Abia Civil servants and the umbrella of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, have concurrently demanded for their arrears of salaries and pensions for the retired old mothers and fathers. They have at different fora lamented arrears of over 30months salaries as at November, 2022. I stand to be corrected.
Anyway, my heart leaped for joy when I read from a particular news blog about the take of the Deputy Governorship Candidate of the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, Obinna Ichita, in that regard.
Hon. Ichita who is the incumbent member representing Aba South in the Abia State House of Assembly, told Civil servants point-blank that the Governor would not live up to his promise to them.
As though I had a secret meeting with Hon. Ichita, he too urged civil servants to ignore the promise by the Governor, saying it is one of the failed promises by the Ikpeazu led state government.
“I am a member of the House of Assembly and there is no provision whatsoever to cover the cost implication on the recurrent expenditure with special emphasis to the salaries of the people in Abia State”.
“If the Government was truthful, it would have included it in the appropriation bill. They would have increased the recurrent expenditure so that we know that we are expecting our people to be promoted and paid their salaries. The Government has no plan to pay. Civil servants should disregard the fake promise from the failed government that has perpetually subjected our people to exceptional level of servitude”. Those were the words of Obinna Ichita.
As at Thursday, November 3, 2022,
Abia pensioners, took to the streets to protest backlog of pension arrears.
According to these senior citizens who marched through major streets chanting anti-government songs, the condition of pensioners in the state has deteriorated under the present administration.
The pensioners who said they were only paid one quarters of their pension, claimed that they had been owed a cumulative of 45 months of pension arrears.
Accusing Government of insensitivity to the plight of pensioners, the senior citizens said average of 10 pensioners die monthly across the state due to poor welfare package.
The pensioners begged Gov. Ikpeazu “to show regard for elders”.
They carried placards with various inscriptions such as: “Ikpeazu pay us our gratuity”; “Ikpeazu, be informed that many pensioners can no longer get medical care due to lack of money”; and “Ikpeazu, why should we vote your candidates in the midst of this wickedness against pensioners?”
The Coordinator, Chief Emeka Okezie, who addressed Journalists on that fateful day decried the condition of pensioners in the state and pleaded with Gov. Ikpeazu to stop hardening his heart against them. It was at this juncture that the coordinator informed that their Leader, Elder Dan Amugo had died due to lack of adequate care.
Also, Chief Okezie who spoke with emotion-laden voice, called on Abians to prevail on the State Government to show care to pensioners to reduce their mortality rate.
“Our coordinator, Elder Dan Amugo is in the mortuary and will be buried soon.
” A lot of us are in the mortuary, a lot of us are lying helplessly and no money to buy drugs.
“Government of Abia State is owing the Abia pensioners a backlog of over 45 months unpaid pensions.
“Throughout this year, they started giving us one-quarter of our monthly pay. Every three months we see one-quarter of our monthly pay in our account. That is all.”
“We are the fathers; they are supposed to help us. Is it how it is done in other states?
“We are suffering unimaginably. Why can’t this people help us?”
The leader of pensioners said that he would not stop demanding their rights despite intimidation by Government.
“Last time, I was arrested and dumped in the police cell. I won’t be cowed. If they like, let them invite me again, I will still go”.
This scenario occurs virtually every month yet the kind Governor who delights in the happiness of his people was busy saving up bundles of money in readiness for his Senatorial bid and I ask; who says there’s no God? I had thought that was a rhetorical question up until I found a reply in the Bible where God said and I paraphrase: “the fool says in his heart, there’s no God”.
On one of the occasions, the governor, who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Chris Ezem, in his response, said the state government was making efforts to ensure regular and consistent payment of pensions. He said also that the pension remained the right of every retiree but since then up until now, what has been done to change the narrative? Absolutely nothing and yet they’re bagging promotions? Who’s fooling who here?
I wish the Governor could stumble into this article and save his face from this looming shame. Otherwise, if the Governor decides to invest all the money he has amassed while in office to run for further election in the money, Abians will defo collect the pepper, wipe their lips and still boo him in the end.
To me, promoting Abia Civil servants and obviously discarding the arrears of salaries and pensions is fraudulent, a downright negligence on the side of the Governor and a perceived ploy to victimise his successor who would be sworn in on May 29.
Similarly, the leadership of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, on November 4, 2022, had called out the Governor over the backlogs of salaries and pensions of Abians, accusing his government of 117 months indebtedness.
The 117 months according to NLC is owed to Abia workers accordingly. 3 months’ salaries to Local Government employees, 23 months’ salary arrears to the staff of ABSUT, 13 months to HMB, 11 months to secondary school teachers, 3 months to Primary School teachers, 30 months to Abia Polytechnic workers, 29 months to Abia College of Education workers, 5 months to Abia College of Health Sciences and 30 months pension benefits.
And I ask, who will pay?
If I had the floor, I would advise Abia workers to exercise caution in accepting this white elephant offer coming from the Governor, who is merely playing to the gallery.
I repeat, Abia workers, beware of the impending jeopardy if you, out of enthusiasm accept this purported promotion coming from a Governor that could scarcely bat an eye at your protracted suffering. Listen to the voice of reasoning and be warned.
Governor’s mouthwatering offer to you is a typical “destructive blessing”.
Remember, to be forewarned is to be forearmed.
Well, I thank God for the courage as demonstrated by Dr. Alex Otti, who allegy came out to denounce the promotion of workers who have not been cared for in somewhat extemporaneous manner by an insensitive Governor turned Messiah. And I ask, did Dr. Alex Otti say that? Well, it could be one of those cheap propagandists trying to ridicule the image of the Labour Party candidate who seems to have the widest acceptability in the State. It can be anything!
However, let’s assume that Dr. Otti or any of the guber candidates from opposition parties had truly made such pronouncement as to clearing all arrears within a specified period of time, and maybe the Governor must have seen the handwriting on the wall; and he probably must have read in the news about Otti, Mascot Uzor Kalu of APP, and the likes, who have at different occasions pledged to clear arrears of salaries and pensions latest before December 2023, if elected into office; he probably must have wondered what magic they intend to deploy to alleviate the suffering of the people.
Who is Governor Ikpeazu trying to witch-hunt by promoting workers with little or no efforts to clear his backlogs? How much is the Governor leaving in the government purse to enable his successor run the office upon emergence? This should be the question on the minds of every well-meaning Abian.
And what if the next Governor happens to be Ikpeazu’s candidate, Chief Okey Ahaiwe, work he be able to contend with the stigma? I still wonder.
To me, Governor Okezie Victor Ikpeazu’s surprise package for Abia Civil servants is oxymoron personified. It can be anything!
Watch out for part 2