Famous Reporters, Owerri
“Governor Hope Uzodinma called us Ghost workers and has refused to pay us our salaries since last year and that is why we have come here to protest at Imo State Government House gate, today, to prove that we are human beings and not just Ghosts.”
Those were the words of unpaid Imo State Civil Servants, comprising both staff of various Ministries and local governments, intergovernmental organisations otherwise known as parastatals, pensioners and teachers who bemoaned none payment of their one year’s salaries and pensions.
Famous Reporters who visited the scene observed that the protesters who consisted of both men and women were seen, clustered around the Government House gate, chanting songs of agony while praying for God’s intervention.
It was also observed that the protest which reportedly started in the early hours of the day persisted up until dusk, as the aggrieved Imolites barricaded the popular Library Road, Owerri, Imo state capital, as both commuters and Motorists were compelled to ply one route.
Some of the protesters who spoke to our correspondent lamented that Governor Hope Uzodinma had deprived them of their salaries for not not fewer than one- year and had tagged them “Ghost Workers, hence their decision to demonstrate at the Douglas House, a perceived proof of their existence.
It was learnt that the number of months owed by the present Imo state administered varied, ranging from twelve, eleven, ten and nine months.
They pleaded with the Governor to remember the agonies and pains of workers in the state, regretting that their families had been ground in penury whereas others have died from protracted starvation.
One of the protesters who spoke to Famous Reporters on anonymity said:
“These are Imo state workers who have not been paid for one year; some are owed one year, some 11 – months and some are owed for less. Some are pensioners and civil servants which includes teachers, local government workers and other parastatals. They are here to ask the Governor to pay them because he says we are Ghost Workers so we want to see the Governor.”
Asked if they had been addressed by any of the government officials, he said:
“No, but there’s someone who is collecting these forms they are filing. They asked them to write their names, the number of months owed, their details and all the rest of them. But, we have been doing this almost every month. So, we have come here to prove to the Governor that we’re not Ghosts.”
Also, another protester, a young woman in her late forties said:
“We are staff of different offices; some of us are of local governments, Ministries and teaching. Some came here day before yesterday and yesterday and now you’ve seen us. As I am standing here, they’re owing me one good year”, she lamented.
Another protester said: “This is the 9th month they have been owing me. The Governor will pay others and leave us. He has not paid us for March, May, June, July, September November, December, 2020 and also for January and February. He called us Ghost workers”, she exclaimed.
Corroborating, a male protester who introduced himself simply as a staff of one of the local governments who also cried over the none payment, disclosed that they were yet to ascertain the why of the negligence of Uzodinma led administration towards the payment of their salaries which has lingered for one year.
He said: “For 10-months now, I’ve not been paid, and the Governor has not told us why he doesn’t want to pay us. He only said that those people who have not been paid are “Ghost Workers” and that’s why we all came out today, to show him that we’re not actually Ghosts.
Asked what their demands are, he said: “We’re asking him to pay us our salaries. Many people have died as a result of this unpaid salaries issue.
So, he should hasten up and pay us our salaries
Meanwhile, the security officers were also seen standing almost aloof while the demonstration which lasted for hours subsisted.