Reporter: CHINAZO ILECHUKWU
Payment of salaries and pensions by Imo State Government has remained a matter of controversy since March 2020, barely two months into the Governor Hope Uzodinma led administration.
While pensioners, civil servants, and some public servants, who are being owed for months accuse the state government of selective payments, government insists that it is up to date with payments, except for those who have peculiar issues that needed to be sorted out.
Our Correspondent on a special assignment takes a look at the issues surrounding the nonpayment and the implication on the affected persons.
There have been claims and counter claims by some workers, pensioners and Imo State Government on reasons behind the nonpayment of entitlements.
While workers who are being owed salaries have continued to grumble over what they termed endless verifications, pensioners have at different times taken to the streets to draw the attention of the government to their plight.
A civil servant, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said though he had continued to receive his salaries at the end of every month, a number of his colleagues were not so lucky.
Teachers in the primary and secondary schools are not left out.
The Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Teachers in the state, Mr. Philip Nwansi, said about two thousand teachers were still being owed since March 2020, even after undergoing verification by the state government.
Also owed are doctors, who are staff of the Imo State University and also work at the University Teaching Hospital Orlu.
The Chairman Nigeria Medical Association in the State, Dr. Chidiebere Okwara, urged government to appreciate the peculiarity of the affected staff rather than seeing them as demanding double pay.
Payment of pensions is another source of concern to residents of the state.
While many senior citizens receive their monthly pensions others have not being paid for more than six months, thereby subjecting them to untold hardship.
A retired Permanent Secretary and former labour leader, Mr. Fabian Agba, said apart from accumulated arrears, he was not being owed pension by the present administration.
He noted that every pensioner in the state possessed an identity card issued by government and wondered why the senior citizens should be denied of their entitlements after undergoing repeated verifications.
Some of the affected pensioners recounted their experiences and appealed to the government to come to their rescue.
Meanwhile, the state government had at different fora alleged irregularities in the payment of salaries and pensions, which had resulted in loss of billions of naira.
The Commissioner for Information and Strategy in the State, Mr. Declan Emelumba, insisted that government was up to date with payments, pointing out that it was only those who failed to submit their documents during verification or had issues with their employment records that were being owed.
Mr. Emelumba explained that government had developed a data base for workers and pensioners to check leakages, noting that telephone lines had been dedicated for people with genuine concerns to seek redress.
Mr. Emelumba stated that government identified anomalies in the payment of doctors at the State University Teaching Hospital Orlu and urged the unions to dialogue with the government to resolve the issue.