By John Nwokocha
THE rumour mills went agog again as professional blackmailers went to town threatening the prevailing calm atmosphere as it is their stock in trade. This time, they are causing apprehension, however erroneously, sequel to the decision by the state governmentÂ to compile data of non-indigenesÂ in the state workforce.Â
The unintelligible mischief makers found a ready tool to manipulate the good people in the state and quickly they went on to say that the data compilation was meant to flush out non-indigenes in the system
For the umpteenth time the government has explained that the exercise is for planning purpose. However, it is understandable the anxiety being entertained by the non-indigenes in view of the above. The reason is simply that they come from states where their state governments had thrown out Abia indigenes in their employ. Their governments had justified this wicked and ungodly act on the ground that they wanted to create employment opportunities for their own indigenes at the same time reduce their wage bills.
No matter how plausible, the argument negatesÂ Â the principle of brotherhood and a united Nigeria. This is adequately couched in the old national anthem: “Though tribe and tongue may differ in brotherhood we stand”.Â Unfortunately many state governments have thrown that binding cord to the winds and opted for discriminating practices which have been affecting Abia indigenes .
At best, what they will offer non-indigenes is contract kind of employment to make sure that such workers do not make a career in their civil service.
Do you know that Abia indigenes have been at the receiving end whenever this happened. But the Abia State government under Chief T. A. Orji has been a direct opposite of all these. As a nationalist Governor Orji has continued to retain non-indigenes in the state pay-roll. As a leading and respected voice in the Governors Forum, Governor Orji has been a strident advocate of a united Nigeria.
And a step towards achieving this is non-discrimination against those not from a particular state. When some state governments some years ago threw out Abia indigenes in their state civil service, this was enough provocation. Be that as it may, the Abia State government did not retaliate.
Now do you know of a fact that over 3000 non-indigenes are in the Abia State teaching service? Yet, do you know that the recent compilation of data has made some startling revelations as to huge wage bills the Abia State government spends on the non- indigenes on its pay-roll.
It is pertinent at this juncture to note that despite the heavy burden of the wage bills coupled with the threats Abians are subjected to in other states, Governor Orji has in the past three years of his administration accommodated non-indigenes in the state civil service.
This quality is uncommon and worthy of emulation. Reasoning from the foregoing therefore, what the non-indigenes owe this administration is to reciprocate this kind gesture of the Governor by being loyal and support all the policies of the government, at the same time shunning the overtures of the opposition, blackmailers and mischief elements. The non- indigenes have to demonstrate their commitment in service to the state government through paying their taxes, other development levies as may be determined by the state government.
They should not allow themselves to be used by agents of destabilisation.
Their insistence in some quarters that the data compilation exercise is designed to disengage them in spite of governmentâ€™s explanations is uncalled for at this time. They should trust the Ochendo-led administration as responsible and responsive, even benevolent.
To further allay the fears of those still in doubt, the essence of good governance is drawn from exhaustive personal data generation which in turn makes for effective planning in policy formulation. So, the Abia State data compilation should be viewed from the lens that it is neither designed to witch-hunt nor punish non-indigenes as enemies of progress are insinuating. Indeed, Abia state still accommodates all people and is investment friendly.
*Mr.Â Nwokocha is Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism in Abia State.