The Imo State government says it has approved the sum of N1.2 billion for immediate payment of pensions for the month of August 2016.
The Commissioner for Internally Generated Revenue and Pensions Matters, Ifeanyi Ararume, disclosed this in Owerri the Imo State capital while speaking to Channels Television.
He also said the state, Governor Rochas Okorocha, has also set up a committee to meet with the Labour Unions on how to offset pension arrears in the state.
The non-payment of pension and the arrears have been one of the major bone of contention between the Imo State government and Labour Unions in Imo State especially the Nigerian Union of Pensioners (NUP).
The NUP have always accused the Imo State government of neglect and non-payment of pension arrears owed to pensioners.
Led by its Chairman, Mr Godwin Ezeji, the NUP had taken their agitations and request to the streets of Owerri with a massive protest against the government in order to press down their demands.
The payment, according to the government, will commence on Monday, September 19.
The commissioner also disclosed that the payment is at all levels from retired civil servants, public servants, retired pronto school teachers to permanent secretaries.
Over 1000 militants and agitators from oil producing area of Ohaji Egbema and Oguta Local Government Areas of Imo State have laid down their arms following the state government’s decision to grant them amnesty.
The militants, in their numbers, stormed the Government House in Owerri the Imo State capital to hearken to the call of the Imo State, Governor Rochas Okorocha, to drop their arms and embrace peace so the government can find a lasting solution to the underdevelopment and infrastructural decay that has enveloped the region over the years.
The local governments are the two coastal and oil producing areas in the state and are known for being restive.
Militants in the area have allegedly joined their colleagues in other Niger Delta states to blow up oil installations and pipelines since over 7 oil companies operate in the area.
Worried about this continuous economic sabotage and restiveness in the area, the Imo State government has organized a programme to grant pardon to all militants, cultists and agitators in the area to enable them sue for peace and address the challenges facing the area.
Some of the Militants who were given opportunity to speak have reasons for their activities and actions and what they have done in the past.
After deciding to lay down their arms, which comprises of Ak-47 riffles, rocket launchers, pistols, charms, machetes, knives, axes and other dangerous weapons, the youths swore to an oath, administered by the Attorney General of the State, never to go back to the past.
They were also prayed for by clergymen after which some made confessions of their previous misdeeds.
Meanwhile, the Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha, who was pleased with the decision of the youths, pardoned them for their misdeeds and promised to engage them meaningfully as a committee has been set up to look into their agitations.
He also gave a 7-day window for those who are still hiding in the creeks to lay down their arms and be granted amnesty.
Present at the event are the Imo State Commissioner of Police, the Imo State army commander, Director SSS Imo State and other head of security agencies in the state as well as all top Imo State government functionaries.
The Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, has made a passionate appeal to Imo indigenes to be patient with his government, and bear the hardship caused by ongoing road expansion, rehabilitation and urban renewal programme.
The Governor made the appeal on Friday in Imo State’s capital, Owerri while inspecting some of the ongoing road expansion and rehabilitation projects.
Governor Okorocha said his intention was to build Owerri as one of the finest cities in Nigeria where traffic congestion would be a thing of the past.
He said full work on the roads would commence immediately after the rains.
“You know you can’t make an omelette without breaking an egg. I am aware of the traffic congestion caused by this road expansion and urban renewal programme. Our people should please be patient. The rains have caused more delay for us, but I promise after the rains, work will start fully on these roads”, Okorocha told reporters.
He also stressed that his dream, as Governor and leader, was to make Owerri one of the most beautiful cities in Nigeria where we will never experience traffic in the next 50 years.
Despite these promises, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), however, is not satisfied with the state of the rehabilitation works.
Earlier at a press conference in Owerri, Ahmed Makarfi faction of the PDP in Imo state criticised the road rehabilitation and expansion, describing it as a “calculated attempt to cause untold hardship on indigenes of the state”.
The Chairman of the party, Mr Charles Ezekwem, said: “Today in Imo state, it takes you about one hour to get to World Bank Housing Estate from Ama J.K. or Bank Road. Our China roads have all been washed away and gotten so bad with just the beginning of rainy season. There’s avalanche of abandoned projects littering everywhere”.
The road expansion spans through most of the major and important roads within the state capital which in turn has caused a heavy gridlock within the metropolis, attracting so much criticisms from various quarters.
To also cushion the effect of the traffic, the Governor also directed that all Lorries and big trucks should desist from using major roads within the state capital by day until 11p.m local time.
A youth group under the auspices of Conference of Leaders of Ethnic Nationality Youth Organization of Nigeria has condemned all acts of economic sabotage in the country with particular reference to the recent attack on oil installations in the Niger Delta.
The group, which is drawn from the youth arm of all the socio-cultural group in the country including Arewa Consultative Forum, Ohanaeze Ndigbo and Afenifere, paid a courtesy visit to the Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha at the Government House in Owerri the Imo state capital south east Nigeria.
The National President of the association, Mr Yerima Shettima, in his address urged the federal Government to halt the increasing act of impunity in the country and follow due process in handling cases of dissidence from any quarter as well as ensure that dialogue is pursued to reduce the present tension in the country.
He said youths from all over the country who have come under one umbrella are ready to collaborate with the Federal Government to move Nigeria forward as they remain committed to the unity of the country based on equity, social justice and a level playing ground for all Nigerians.
Meanwhile the host, Governor Okorocha while responding, commended the youths for coming together under one umbrella irrespective of ethnic differences to speak the truth and support the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
He said the unity of Nigeria is not negotiable and therefore urged the youths to continue in one spirit so Nigeria can be better for all.
Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State has condemned in strong terms the recent attack on residents of some rural communities in Enugu State, southeast Nigeria.
The Imo State Governor described the act perpetrated by some group of unknown gunmen suspected to be Fulani herdsmen as ‘very barbaric and unfortunate’.
At a meeting with some traditional rulers on Wednesday in Owerri the state capital, he said that the recent attack in Enugu State was inhumane and totally unacceptable.
The Governor urged the Federal Government through the security operatives, to immediately bring the perpetrators of such evil act to book.
He appealed to the traditional rulers in all the communities in Imo State and southeast Nigeria to take absolute control of security in their various autonomous communities.
Governor Rochas Okorocha also tasked them to ensure peaceful coexistence between their people and residents from other areas, adding that Nigeria presently needed absolute peace in the face of its several challenges.
Expressing optimism that President Muhammadu Buhari would tackle the present security challenges caused by the herdsmen, he called on the people of Enugu State and the entire Southeast region to remain calm, as drastic measures were being taken to curb the killings.
He instructed the Nigerian Armed Forces and Police to take all necessary action to stop the killing, saying that ending the recent upsurge of attacks on communities by herdsmen reportedly armed with sophisticated weapons had become a priority on the government’s agenda for enhanced national security.
The Wife of the Imo State Governor, Mrs Nkechinyere Okorocha, has built and commissioned a skills acquisition and empowerment centre in the state.
The vocational centre, which was built and commissioned in collaboration with the Imo State government, is aimed at tutoring and empowering unemployed youths in becoming self-reliant, employers of labour, as well as great entrepreneurs.
At the commissioning of the Nneoma Skills Acquisition and Empowerment Centre in Orlu Local Government Area, Governor Rochas Okorocha, who was represented by the Imo State Deputy Governor, Eze Madumere, said the initiative was in line with the vision of the second phase of the rescue mission agenda.
According to the deputy governor, the agenda was to provide jobs and employment for unwaged youths and to create enabling environment for small scale businesses and cottage industries.
In her speech, Mrs Okorocha said that rather than waiting for white collar jobs, the skill acquisition centre, which has highly qualified instructors and professional equipment would help unemployed youths to learn and grow their own business and hopefully become partners in progress with the government and also foster economic development.
Some guests at the event commended the efforts of the Imo State government and the first lady for the laudable achievements, stressing that it would go a long way to address youth unemployment in the state.
The unemployed youths would get three to six months free training on vocational skills such as fashion designing, cosmetology, photography, catering, hair dressing and computer training that would yield great results by producing entrepreneurs and employers of labour in the nearest future.
A total number of 120 students were admitted into the first phase of the six- month programme for Orlu zone and the organisers also disclosed that the centre would be replicated in Owerri and Okigwe senatorial districts of Imo State.
The Imo State Government has commenced the first phase of the 2016 immunization programme against polio across the 27 Local Government Areas of the state.
Flagging off the campaign at Njaba Local Government Area in Imo State on Saturday, the State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, said that the immunization campaign programme against polio is to once again, dramatize his administration’s zeal in delivering quality health care system for children in the state.
Governor Okorocha said that the programme would deliver children in the state from the hands of the deadly polio disease that had taken the lives of many innocent children over the years.
The Governor noted that the immunization would complement the news that Nigeria is now a polio free country.
He, however, enjoined all parents to take advantage of the immunization programme by the State Government, to immunize their children against polio and other form of diseases.
The Imo State Commissioner for Health, Ngozi Njoku, said that the campaign would go across the 27 local government areas of the state with the flag off in Njaba Local Government Area.
She said that the immunization programme against polio is part of the determination of the Okorocha led administration to affirm the good news that Nigeria is a polio free country.
As the Imo State Government takes the campaign to all the 27 Local Government Areas of the state, it would go a long way to put an end to any issue of polio among children in the state.
The Imo State Government has appealed to the United States to furnish the state government with a comprehensive list of all Imo citizens serving jail terms in their country.
This appeal is coming from Governor Rochas Okorocha when he was visited by the United States of America Consular General, Mr John Bray in Owerri, Imo state capital.
Governor Okorocha said the reason is to get details of the offenses committed to know if they have been tried and convicted, because some of them are languishing in various prisons over offenses they did not commit.
He appealed to the U.S Consular General to use his good office to revisit some of these cases with a view to release the innocent ones, especially those who are willing to return to Nigeria, in order to enjoy the dividends of the new administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
In response to this, the US Consular General, Mr John Fray, who had a closed door meeting with the governor on some of the issues raised, said he is ready to partner with the state government.
Mr Fray added that the aim of his visit is to familiarize with people of the state, get acquainted with the socio-cultural pattern and way of life as well as know certain challenges faced by people in this part of the world.
The Imo State government has recalled workers it suspended in 19 parastatals in the state, ending the disagreement between the government and labour unions on the issue.
The decision was reached on Wednesday after a meeting between the State government officials and some leaders of the labour unions.
In an agreement signed after talks by the ‘Committee on Joint Government-Labour Negotiation in Imo State’, an immediate recall of all suspended workers of Imo State was recommended, “notwithstanding that the parastatals in the opinion of Government should have been more productive”.
One of the other clauses in the agreement is that the gross revenue of the Government from all sources would be verified every month by the joint committee of Government and Labour.
The agreement read: “That the Government will retain and run all its affairs with not more than 30% of the verified revenue for the month, while the committee will apply the balance of 70% in the settlement of salaries of public servants and pensioners.
“Negotiations will continue with a view to fully accessing the wage bill of every Ministry, Department and Agency (MDA) and to determine the funding modalities of parastatals within the agreed percentage sharing framework.
“That a comprehensive agreement will be reached by both parties”.
Both parties were also of the opinion that at a quarterly interval, the position in Imo State on the critical areas would be reviewed and compliance ensured and that all revenue subheads for the month would be fully disclosed by the office of the Accountant General to select Committee of Labour.
It was also agreed that no public servant would be victimised in way as a result of the actions or in-actions leading up to this dispute and these resolutions
The agreement was signed by some government officials, led by the Special Adviser to the Governor on Technical matters, Honourable Emeh Ikenna, and some leaders of the labour unions’ led by the chairman of the NLC in Imo State, Comrade Austin Chilakpu
Before the suspension was reversed, members of the NLC from the 36 states of the federation led by the National President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, had converged on Owerri, the capital of Imo State to hold a protest and force the state to reverse its decision.
The protest was held to express their displeasure over the Concession Policy by the state government and the suspension of some workers.
All activities at the Sam Mbakwe Airport, Owerri and other government offices under the NLC were shutdown to effect the compliance of the protest.
‘Indolent And Redundant Workers’
The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), John Oyegun, had earlier met with the Governor over the issues raised by the union to seek ways of resolving it.
Addressing reporters at the Government House, Mr Oyegun appealed to labour to cooperate with the Okorocha-led administration, which he said meant well for the people of the state.
He said that after his meeting with the Governor, he was convinced that the actions by the state government were in the overall interest of the state, urging both parties to demonstrate flexibility in their dialogue, considering the new economic realities on ground.
The State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, also told reporters that the protest by labour was uncalled for and politically motivated, as the decision taken by the state government was not for any personal gain but to sanitise the civil service and ensure that the civil service and public service in the state were more productive, efficient and effective.
“The government cannot continue to borrow to pay salaries of indolent and redundant workers putting into consideration the present economic situation in the country,” Governor Okorocha stressed.
The Imo State Governor has promised that his rescue mission agenda for the next four years would be centred on the education sector.
Governor Rochas Okorocha made the pledge at the official commissioning of a new staff office complex at the premises of the Imo State Universal Basic Education Board (IMSUBEB) along Port Harcourt Road in Owerri, the state’s capital.
Focusing his rescue mission agenda on education, according to him, would enhance the welfare of teachers and other staff in the sector.
The Governor added that the development would also consolidate on the qualitative free education given to students across the state.
He said that his rescue mission agenda had positively changed the lives of people in the state in the past four years and expressed optimism that 2016 would be a year of consolidation and continuity of all the programmes embarked upon in his first tenure.
He also urged all workers in the state to imbibe a new spirit towards their duties in the new year and not to take the goodwill of the Imo State government for granted.
In her remark, the Executive Chairperson of IMSUBEB, Mrs Getrude Oduka, said that the provision of a conducive atmosphere for teaching and learning process as well as administrative activities by the state government was indeed a proof of its commitment to improving the welfare of workers in the state.
Thanking the Governor for the efforts, she also disclosed that the Imo State government had put measures in place for 2016, to ensure that they consolidate on achievements made previously in the education sector.
Governor Rochas Okorocha State has presented a 102-billion-Naira budget proposal for the 2016 fiscal year before the Imo State House for Assembly.
The Governor made the budget presentation on Tuesday at the hallow chamber in Owerri, the capital of Imo State in southeast Nigeria.
Governor Okorocha explained that the budget, which was tagged ‘Budget of Consolidation and Continuity’, showed that 43.1 per cent of the total budget was proposed for capital expenditure while 56.9 per cent was proposed for recurrent expenditure.
He disclosed that the budget targeted 23 billion Naira from the Imo State’s share of the Federal Allocation, 17 billion Naira from Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) and 148 billion Naira from Excess Crude Oil among others.
The former presidential candidate hinted that the budget was anchored on free and qualitative education from primary to tertiary level, rapid industrialisation, efficient healthcare delivery, agricultural development.
He added that the budget would also concentrate on infrastructure development and substantial provision, saying it would be channelled towards the completion of all ongoing projects while new projects of high priority would also receive attention in line with the state’s medium term expenditure framework.
Governor Okorocha maintained that the Budget performance was affected by the sharp drop in allocation from the Federation Account, which adversely affected the revenue profile of Imo State during the period, stressing that the 2016 budget was 39 billion Naira lesser than that of 2015.
The Imo State House of Assembly has promised the people of the state a robust and life impacting legislation in 2016.
The Chairman of the House Committee on Judiciary and Local Government Affairs, Honourable Arthur Igwim, made the disclosure at a constituency briefing in Ideato North Local Government Area of Imo State, southeast Nigeria.
Igwim assured the citizens of the state that the legislators would work closely with the executive and judiciary arm of the government to deliver the dividends of democracy.
He expressed satisfaction with the legislature’s good relationship with the executive and promised that the lawmakers would sustain the bond irrespective of party affiliation to ensure that Imo State citizens enjoy the benefits of electing them into legislative offices.
The legislator urged the people of the state to support the Governor Rochas Okorocha-led administration and lawmakers in their renewed drive to make Imo State an investment haven.