Stiff opposition ofImoStateworkers to the government’s proposed community government council (CGC) has been attributed to activities of the elite among the labour unions.
This was the view of the State’s Commissioner for Information, Dr. Obinna Duruji, when he delivered a lecture entitled “Good Governance and Public Relations: The Rochas Example” to members, of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) Imo State Chapter, recently in Owerri.
The commissioner, however, declared; “They are not succeeding”, citing a local government area where only three civil servants out of more than 200 are yet to return their forms which the government had ordered the workers to obtain and submit to their traditional rulers for endorsement. Labour, however, insisted they did it under duress.
The scheme, he said, was merely a fulfillment of one of the cardinal points of the Rochas Okorocha’s campaign and that it was calculated to fasttrack rural development and stem the rural – urban migration.
According to the commissioner, the civil servants feared their rural communities because the areas had not been developed.
Dr Duruji denied that the government was replacing the local government system with the CGC but rather said that it was complementing it.
He said that the new system has a tripartite partnership of the state, the local government and the community which forms the checks and balances in it.
The commissioner pointed out that the fourth tier government, which is yet to be ratified by the State House of Assembly, was not completely new, having been fashioned after the old county councils.
The commissioner who is a lawyer as well as a communications practitioner said that the House was apparently proposing to name the scheme Community Development Council (CDC) and that the executive would acquiesce to that should it happen so.
He was of the view that the scheme would awaken the back-to-land consciousness as one of the targets of the present dispensation is massive agricultural revolution.
The community government programme of the Rochas Administration had been a source of conflict between the government and workers.
Government warned that it would deal with any civil servant frustrating the smooth takeoff of the fourth-tier government, but the organized labour has insisted that the government had no right to either deploy retrench or transfer any civil servant without recourse to the relevant laws.
They feared that no stipulated pecuniary benefits would be paid to them for the relocation to the rural areas, especially now that the government had foot-dragged in paying them allowances due to them.
Sources believe that the forms to be collected from their various traditional rulers were to further verify the number of true Imo people working in the service of the government, although the government had vowed not to retaliate the recent sack of Imo indigenes in the AbiaStatecivil service.
Chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Comrade Reginald Anyadike said that labour leaders had written several unreplied letters to the governor over the impasse, and accused the governor of neglecting the rights of civil servants.
He said that those who filled the forms feared that they would lose their jobs as Labour had advised against their filling them, saying that they did it under duress.