Ohakim’s 10,000 jobs and Owelle’s silence

Monday, June 6, 2011, with the air of victory at the polls still very fresh, jubilant sons and daughters of Imo state, with great expectations, ardently listened to the maiden broadcast of their chosen leader, Governor Rochas Okorocha, as he categorically dished out his policies, action plans and good intents for indigenes of the State plans geared towards bringing to the doorsteps of every Imolite the dividends of democracy embedded in his campaign mantra, “RESCUE MISSION.” He, indeed, spoke with purpose and confidence, typical of a dynamic, promising and focused leader, which was occasionally greeted with cheers and nods of approval and support from listeners.

However, that happy mood was abruptly cut short when the governor, at a point in his speech, announced the suspension of all the beneficiaries of ex-governor Ikedi Ohakim’s 10,000 job placements in the State, a pronouncement which not only pooled in stiff, negative reactions from the public, but also reduced the flavour in His Excellency’s overall maiden speech to Imo people.

His words: “The recent appointment of 10,000 workers into the Imo State public service for cheap political gains just three weeks to the expiration of the previous administration, is not acceptable to this government. I hereby direct the immediate suspension of the said 10,000 jobs while in line with its commitment to job creation, review the situation.” To some, these strong words ‘hold water,’ regarding it as a bold and vital course of action taken by the governor on the grounds that the job offers were merely politically bed-rocked with gimmicks and shams adopted by the ex-governor to lure the unsuspecting masses into re-electing him for a second term, a view which was simultaneously countered by many others who thought differently, branding those words of governor Okorocha as being callous, insensitive and a total disregard for due process. The end of his maiden broadcast unfortunately marked the herald of criticisms, doubts and controversies soon to engulf his administration.

Even though ex-Governor Ohakim’s moments at the State House, especially the last days, were characterized by unprecedented kind gestures, sudden phantom projects and promises, political bravado and utmost ostentatious display of political strength and wealth, he, however, will still be commended for greatly easing the unemployment status of Imo youths through the “10,000” jobs scheme, as it saw most jobless yet employable sons and daughters of the land become responsible citizens, contributing their different forms of ideas and expertise as inputs towards the development of the State.

Based on Governor Okorocha’s proclamation in his maiden speech, it may be true that appointment letters were issued three weeks to the exit of the previous government for selfish political reasons, but he would have soft-pedaled on such a hasty conclusion pending the outcome of credible information gotten from his fact finders, as his conclusion not only roped in the true facts with the false, but also had traces of misconception, misinterpretation and misjudgment of the whole recruitment exercise. The truth of the matter remains that months (not weeks, according to Gov. Okorocha) before the end of the previous administration, Chief Ikedi Ohakim gave jobs to 10,000 Imo youths, jobs that were advertised both in the print and electronic media weeks after his initial pronouncement, which gave sufficient time for interested applicants to purchase and process their application forms in preparation for the proper recruitment exercise, a process which was generally described as “organized.”

At the end of the thorough exercise, 5,000 fire brand and able bodied youths were launched into the State’s civil service, while the rest were recruited into the State school system accordingly. Having their appointment letters as evidence, they all settled immediately to work.

That welcome development, no doubt, was a lifeline which brought smiles to a lot of families in the State, as lives became transformed positively. Unknown to them all, the goodies they relished would be short-lived, with the rays of hope for a bright future smothered, to come crumbling down like a pack of cards just in a single swoop…in a single broadcast, leading them back to the ugly life of poverty yet again.

Though the affected beneficiaries have in the past displayed their disapproval of the executive pronouncement by seriously engaging the government of Governor Okorocha in series of legal battles, peaceful demonstrations and solidarity marches geared towards changing the governor’s decision on the matter, but it all appears to have ended up being fruitless as the long silence from the Number one citizen over the matter only points to one sad truth, and that is “10,000” jobs is now a long, forgotten issue. Sad indeed!

But, was Governor Okorocha’s stand on the controversial sacking of sons and daughters of the land from their various jobs in accordance with legal procedure? Was the pronouncement a justifiable act in line with his “RESCUE MISSION” agenda, or a malicious move aimed at detaching his government from elements of the past administration of Ikedi Ohakim? Did he ever consider the negativities attached to denying youths of their sole means of livelihood, knowing fully well the risk and dangers these youngsters are liable to encounter the moment the claws of idleness and frustration set in on them? Okay, if he considered the information gotten from his informants as “credible,” couldn’t he have at least retained the appointment of those who had genuinely worked and earned salaries for upwards of six months (evident from the dateline indicated on their appointment letters)? How long would it still take his review panel to come up with their findings before these youths resort to crime and other vices as alternative means of survival (if at all they haven’t begun yet)? These questions and many more need to be provided with suitable and acceptable answers by this current administration for the purpose of quelling any imminent upsurge or rebellion on the part of these “wounded” youths or the masses in general, whether now or in the nearest future. It is also pertinent for His Excellency to note that a good number of these same beneficiaries of the “10,000” job offers voted massively for him at the polls which saw him to power even at the expense of their benefactor, Chief Ikedi Ohakim, just because they needed a more positive change in governance. This, certainly, shouldn’t be the best way to pay them for the right decision taken at the polls.

Dear Governor, please be careful not to throw the baby away with the bath water. It is time to critically revisit the plight of these affected youths who currently remain jobless, wallowing in perpetual idleness and poverty, a state that doesn’t take long before the ugly claws of frustration set in. And even if they cannot be reinstated at their different work places again, alternative jobs should be created as soon as possible to keep them reasonably occupied and in check against social vices, grooming them to become responsible men and women in the society.

Remember, these youths of today form the pivot of tomorrow’s future and as such their affairs should be handled with utmost wisdom and sense of priority.

God bless the people of Imo State. Imo must be better!


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