Against all advice, Chinedu Obigwe who calls himself Evangelist and National Coordinator of APGA warriors went ahead to write about Dr Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah after I asked him to sheath his swords as Politics is over. He proved he is a warrior and I was prepared to smoulder him and his principals as a Champion in the jungle, but I was been prevailed on not to cut off his ear as he would expect. Before that, I had planned to revisit Nze Uche Nworah’s led Anambra state Broadcasting Service , ABS Awka to chronicle its good, bad and ugly history since Nworah assumed duties.
However a trip to the Anambra state Secretariat on Monday April 8th, 2019 changed the focus of my outing this week. At the magnificent Anambra state Secretariat, Awka where thousands of workers troop in and out daily from all corners of the state and beyond, there is no toilet for visitors and the ones in the offices are not functional. Why? There is no water! The sumo spoilt and needed to be worked on or a replacement. But for over two years the Head of Service , Barr Harry Udu looked the other way.
The people I inquired from were quick to condemn the alert Governor, as he is called, Chief Willie Obiano but I disagreed with them because there is a Head of Service who is in charge of workers. The HOS as the occupant is called is the numero uno worker in the state. Unless Udu is a weakling and a coward, then forgive me as I haven’t seen that side before. I witnessed some others in the past including recent Lady Ifeoma Melifeonwu from Onitsha who later became Chairman of Anambra state Civil Service Commission and Mr Chidi Christopher Ezeoke, Mni, from Umuchu in Aguata, now a National Population Commission Commissioner representing Anambra state. They weren’t weaklings neither were they cowards. They got the fair share of the rights of the Civil Servants in the state. There was power and there was water supply in the Secretariat. Though, all were not roses but incomparable to what I observed at the secretariat and what a brief investigation into the operations of the secretariat revealed.
It was strange to discover that the public toilets building in the secretariat has been demolished and the location turned into a public parking lot. Nice effort by Udu led administration but an alternative would have been provided. As at press time, I was not told there was an alternative as people troop out to nearby bushes to pass urine and defecate. Every hidden corner stinks of human waste. Now it means every man to himself as far as convenience is concerned. Open defecation is what is being witnessed in the state secretariat environs!
The premises look neat with interlocking and stuffs like that but beyond the veil of neat compound lies an unbelievable history. The buildings are being repainted and sincerely it was neat though unnecessary because the buildings are not up to two decades of its first painting. The Old secretariat building reroofing and repainting is in order because it has lasted awhile.
I was worried when a visitor, a Lady at that was pressed and she approached almost all the offices pleading to use their convenience but she couldn’t gain access because there is no water. I was shocked to hear that there was no water in the secretariat for over two years, and therefore the toilets were not working. The lady defecated on her body and it was really messy. Her intension of coming to Awka that day was defeated as she first looked for enclosure to ease off tension and left disgracefully. Stories were told how staff of the ministries went through similar experiences of urinating on their bodies or defecating on their bodies.
Worst hit are people in the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Finance where people seriously pressed enter nearby farms or bushes if you like to answer the call of nature. That day Ministry of Economic Planning stank like hell, no thanks to toilets not flushed.
Permanent Secretaries and Directors as well as top officials of the government use jerry cans to fetch water from home or elsewhere for use in the office and you see them carrying it up and down on arrival to duty every other day.
Strangely all the electrical points hitherto not functional are now all working though the Secretariat has no Public Power supply for over two years, until a media house blew it open. Some of the offices operate on generator sets and others stay without power supply. Now diesel comes direct from Government House to power the Lister for the Secretariat though some still complain.
What is a seasoned lawyer like, John Harry Udu, the HOS of Anambra state doing over all these? Why can’t he fix these things? He has been there since Obiano’s emergence. He took over from Chidi Ezeoke, Mni. I heard that a lot of things are not in order since he assumed duties but no one is talking. Ezeoke gets his way, they said, but Udu does not and I ask why? Ezeoke was CKC Old boy, same as Obi and Obiano. Is this enough reason for a confirmed HoS of a state not to get his statutory approvals? I heard he went hand in cap to get Workers Day approval last year?
There are Political appointees of the Governor including Executive Assistants, Special Assistants and Senior Special Assistants among others who the civil Servants refer as XYZ because they are too many have taken over the training and activities the core civil servants would have been benefiting from. And a few slots by the civil servants are not enough hence they call it 5/100 which is a bad fraction. Civil Servants are agitated because nobody can talk and their Permanent Secretaries allegedly said all the reports they made to Udu, an Amawbia indigene has not yielded any fruit.
Why would statutory administrative duties of the civil servants like training and retraining be taken over by political appointees on temporary mission?
I was told that there were Directors appointed by Obiano even Substantive Permanent Secretaries without the benefits of office for over a year now.
Why is Head of Service not fighting for these interests? Why would Directors retire without enjoying their privilege of being promoted to a Permanent Secretaries even when there are vacancies in about ten ministries for them to be so promoted? Why would civil servants retire after 35 years without a home over their heads but politicians on transit within six months build mansions, yet they won’t allow carrier civil servants to enjoy their privileges of office because the politicians hijacked their responsibilities?
Why would Udu be mum as the state civil service is being bastardized? I was told that Civil Servants now working in the Government House and Governor’s Lodge are from one location of the state called Omambala area and if you are not from Omambala, you won’t be working there. And seriously though not supposedly, since that happened the Governor now has a rest of mind as secrets on the shortcomings of the government stopped being leaked.
Another thing I saw as not in order is the news that the Chief of Staff awards contracts and Accountant General pays? It shouldn’t be so. The Government awards contracts through relevant ministries then the ministry becomes accountable for the contracts so awarded in lieu of supervision and through the Commissioner give the Governor on the contract so awarded.
Why would a level 13 officer be acting as the Accountant General of the State when there are Directors of Accounts? Is it true that Governor Obiano was deliberate on that, waiting for his people to measure up before appointing the right Accountant General? Can it be true that there are vacant openings for appointment of Permanent Secretaries in the Anambra state Civil Service, yet none has been appointed and 12 officers are acting as Perm Secs in those ministries? Why should this be, Mr Udu?
Why would those who were promoted since 2017 by Governor Obiano as Directors not enjoying their benefits of promotion yet some retired without the benefits of office they were promoted to? And why should ministry be doing selective promotion as some in same position have been promoted, others not? Why would erosion encroach frontage of the Ministry and Harry is waiting for some other person to complain about it? Flood from Ifite Awka first market through the Secretariat in front of B Division of the Nigerian Police through the Federal Secretariat is something else and should have been checkmated through NEWMAP or NASREA? Why would the HOS be waiting for anybody to announce measures to checkmate that?
Oh gosh! Where is Mr Chidi Ezeoke, Mni? Is direction not needed at a time like this?
I don’t know Civil Servants and teachers who are worse in the denials accrual to them as Teachers who went for promotion interview in 2014 got their names released in 2017 because of Governorship election. The arrears of the promotion are yet to be paid to teachers. In 2017, those due for promotion in 2015 and 2016 equally went for promotion interview in 2017 probably for election but those due for promotion in 2017 and 2018 as well as 2019 are yet to be promoted. Why? When shall they go for promotion interview and when shall the arrears be paid? Education Ministries over to you!
If it is true that the HoS goes cap in hand begging others who are not in line of duties to appeal to the Governor for his rights and obligations before it could be attended to, it is not right and something urgent needed to be done to ameliorate the situation. He should be accorded the respects and royalties due that office but he should know that his duties is to tell the Governor the truth about workers’ due in the state and diplomatically pursue it to logical conclusion so that workers can beat their chest and say they have a Head of Service who speaks for them not for himself.
His position is statutory and has rules of engagement and disengagement so needless fear his sack. A new Anambra state Civil Service with happy workers is awaiting the action of Governor Willie Obiano not a joyful civil service based on propaganda. Harry Udu please hear this and fight for the interest of the workers!
Cornucopia is a weekly column of Odogwu Emeka Odogwu. Odogwu is a known Journalist, Editor, Media Consultant and famous Blogger, as well as Social Media Entrepreneur, publisher and Conversationalist @ www.odogwublog.com among others.
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