Governor Rochas Okorocha has called on the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Imo State University chapter, to call off their strike, expressing shock that the lecturers could go on strike in the second week of March, over the February salary.
Okorocha said that, “it is shocking that the ASUU in IMSU told lecturers to go on strike in the second week of March because of February salary, and when they had been paid full salary for the month of January. This is shocking. It is not acceptable to the state government. ASUU in IMSU should call off the strike without delay, because it was by all standard not justifiable and not advisable.”
The governor stated that, “we shall continue to keep faith with the workers’ welfare. If the workers did not go on strike over two months’ salary, we would have continued to go out of our way to pay them in full. But they went on strike over two months’ salary and we then agreed with labour that they should take seventy per cent of the total income of the state to pay salaries and pensions, while the government takes only thirty per cent for capital expenditure. And now they have seen the truth of what we have been telling them about the finances of the state.”
According to him, “As the allocation dropped further for the month of February, the labour body may only be able to pay the workers fifty per cent of their salary. The whole thing has been able to let Imolites and the world to understand what the state has been able to do all these while. It is on record that Imo government has kept faith in the past in payment of salaries and allowances until recently when the economic situation in the country became challenging following the outrageous looting of the resources of the country in the past.
“The workers of Imo State should imbible the spirit of sacrifice, because of the prevailing economic situation at the moment. They should show concern. Imo people should also show understanding. The state has the highest number of ghost workers. The government has set aside N3.5billion for the Job, Job and Factory, Factory campaign, which must be agro based.”
Okorocha made the call when he swore in the new Secretary to the State Government, Sir George Eche, and said that his appointment was to bridge a gap, remarking that in the state, Ngor Okpuala, where the new scribe came from, Ohaji/Egbema and Onuimo were the most marginalised local governments in the state. He told Eche to unite his people, Owerri zone and by extension the state.
The governor expressed optimism that Eche would leave up to expectation and also stated that his predecessor, Sir Ejiogu, was never sacked, adding that he also put in his best, reminding him, too, that every political appointment must end one day.
Eche promised that he would bring the needed change to the office of the Secretary to the State Government for good and expressed gratitude to the governor for finding him worthy for such position.