By Kingsley Maduforo
“The country needs and, unless I mistake its temper, the country demands bold, persistent experimentation. It is common sense to take a method and try it: if it fails admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt (1932).
Franklin D. Roosevelt was speaking of the ‘New Deal’ which helped bring the United States out of the Great Depression, through infrastructural development programmes, that stimulated economic growth and translated into socio-economic uplift through increased employment and poverty alleviation. Before the present administration came to power, Abia State faced major challenges with regards to both social and economic development. There is a complex interplay between socio-economic development and local-economic development aimed at addressing backlogs in service delivery, infrastructure and poverty alleviation. To stimulate growth across the sectors of the economy of the state, infrastructural development is a key driver of the sustainability of social and economic development.
One of the major challenges Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu faced upon taking over the leadership of Abia State was how to clear the backlogs of salaries inherited from the previous governments. Ikpeazu believes that for there to be a sustainable growth in his administration, he most prioritise issues and take them one by one. Clearing the backlogs of salaries was in the list of issues that required urgent attention.
But mischievous elements called the opposition in Abia, has taken to social media to mislead the gullible that the present administration under Gov. Ikpeazu is owing salaries ranging from 18 to 30 months, which in every sense is not true but lies of the opposition. The opposition in Abia State today knows very well that they cannot win any election in the state, they are bereft of ideas, so they settled to using lies and propaganda to run their campaign thinking they can tarnish the image and popularity of the man of the moment, Gov. Okezie Victor Ikpeazu. The party in opposition should have a history and verifiable records of people-oriented programmes and achievements. It is offensive and a demonstration of arrogance
It is on record that Gov. Ikpeazu upon assumption of office cut his salary by half in sympathy with workers who were owed arrears of salary and encourage his assistants to follow suit. He set up a new body called the Integrated Payroll Verification System (IPVS), saddled with the mandate of conducting staff auditing so as to ascertain the actual strength of the workforce and also to expose the rot in the state civil service. We call it ‘war against ghost workers syndrome’. The state has saved millions of naira through the exercise. It is a whole new climate change in Abia, a kind of revolution executed by taking drastic steps aimed at giving meaningful service to the people.
Finally, on the payment of salaries in the state, it should be noted that Abia State pays higher salary than IMO, ENUGU, ANAMBRA and EBONYI States. Even with the high rate of salary payment in the state, Gov. Ikpeazu has reiterated that he will not downsize the Abia workforce as most States did and are still doing. The bottom line remains: the 67 MDA’s that make up the core civil service in Abia state are up to date on salaries. While modalities are in place to clear the few months arrears owed pensioners and secondary school teachers, the primary school teachers are up to date with their salaries. The government is still delivering on key programmes outside the wages of 38,000 workers in the state.
Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu understands that for the required increase in output and promotion of the state economic growth to be achieved, the state civil servants constitute a very vital catalyst. He is therefore putting all mechanisms in place in order to ensure that they put in their best.
Kingsley Maduforo, a Media/Political Analyst, writes from Umuahia.