By Chidi Nwopara
Imo State Government has reacted angrily to what it termed “the inexplicable summary of sacking of non-indigenes working for Abia State Government”.
The Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Dr. Obinna Duruji, who made government’s stand known in a telephone chat also described the new policy of Governor Theodore Orji as “anachronistic and obsolete”.
“Abia State Government’s policy of sacking non_indigenes on its payroll is anachronistic and patently obsolete in Nigeria’s present day realities. Honestly, the policy is completely reprehensible”, Dr. Duruji said.
While roundly condemning the policy, Imo State Government equally fumed that “the irrational act would compel us to retaliate, so as to accommodate our citizens forced out of Abia civil and public service.” It argued that more Abia State indigenes are currently on its payroll than what Abia State Government claim about Imo citizens.
“We have more Abians than they have ours. We have Abians in the state’s expanded executive council. How can we now continue to keep such persons on our payroll when our own have been summarily sacked by their employers? This is sad”, the Commissioner said.
Answering a question, Duruji said: “Those on our payroll will obviously be disengaged to quickly make room for those sacked by Abia Government. Some Igbo patriots have been making frantic effort to unify Ndigbo but Governor Orji’s damnable act has completely rubbished whatever remained of Igbo unity.”
Continuing, the Commissioner reasoned that it was not late for Abia Government to have a rethink, adding that the policy will certainly ignite a far reaching chain reaction within the geo_political zone.
Similarly, Imo State House of Assembly has unanimously passed a motion condemning the compulsory mass transfer of non_indigenes working in Abia State and urged the government of Abia State to rescind the decision.
This was contained in a three-prayer motion sponsored by the member for Ideato South constituency, Mr. Ikechukwu Amuka, with 12 others as co_sponsors.
The second prayer of the motion extolled Governor Rochas Okorocha for “exhibiting statesmanship in the spirit of the unity and brotherhood of the two states by not commencing a reciprocal action against the government and people of Abia State.”
The last prayer implored Okorocha to initiate a process for dialogue with his Abia State counterpart to find a common ground of action, in view of the fact that indigenes of both sister states would bear the brunt of the adverse effect that may possibly arise from any unilateral action by both state governments.
Leading the debate on the motion, Amuka said that at the creation of Abia State in 1991 out of Imo State, some civil servants decided to stay or work with any of the divide, considering where the civil servants resided. This decision, according to Amuka, was based on the simple premise and sentiment of seeing themselves as one indivisible Igbo nation.
Amuka noted that Abia citizens, who are civil servants, still live and work in the state civil service with equal privileges, in addition to appointments into political positions, in the spirit of oneness.
He therefore reasoned that the pronouncement to retrench non_Abia citizens on the state’s payroll and its endorsement by the resolution on September 23, 2011, by Abia State House of Assembly, left much to be desired.
Contributing in support of the motion, the House Deputy Speaker and member representing Oru West, Mr. Donatus Ozoemena, said the gravity of the action was contained in a memo by the Abia State Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs to all transition committee chairmen with the title, “back_loading non_indigenes in Abia State to their states of origin” and described the act as strange and un_intelligent.
The member for Ehime Mbano, Mr. Kingsley Dimaku, said the decision would mean separation of families, while his Onuimo counterpart, Mr. Robertson Ekwebelem, described it as “barbaric, despicable, shameful and unconstitutional”.
The members for Aboh Mbaise and Ideato North constituencies, Mrs. Ngozi Pat_Ekeji and Eudora Igwe, said that Ndigbo are already endangered species in the country, pointing out that the obnoxious policy of Abia State Government was a further step to encourage those who are not of the Igbo extraction to deal more ruthlessly with them.
The members for Isiala Mbano, Chief Simeon Iwunze and Ezinihitte Mbaise, Dr. Obioma Ekennia, and their Owerri Muncipal counterpart, Dr. Victor Mere and Chief Luke Chukwu, also contributed to the motion.
The Speaker, Mr. Benjamin Uwajimogu, said it was disheartening and not a good development as most of the people being asked to be retrenched have spent all their youthful years, skills and resources in the service of Abia State Government. He equally described the action as “a rape of democracy, killing and manslaughter”.