Following the introduction of a policy tagged: “Back to Land for Agriculture”, by the Imo State government, the working days of some civil servants in the state has been reduced. Workers are now to work for only three days in a week, while they can take the remaining two days as ‘Farming days’. This move is aimed at enabling the state workers engage and invest in agriculture for self-sustenance.
The Imo State Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, revealed the policy on Monday, August 1, during the courtesy visit of traditional rulers from the state, operating under the aegis of Royal fathers in Agriculture, at the Government House Owerri.
In a statement by the state governor’s Chief Press secretary, Sam Onwuemeodo, it was assured that the new policy will not affect the salaries of workers, adding that it has already received approval from the State Executive Council.
“Against the backdrop of the “Back to Land for Agriculture” Programme, the governor directed that public servants in the state would now work from Mondays to Wednesdays, and use Thursdays and Fridays for agriculture (farming) while Saturdays can be used for ceremonies. And the directive takes effect from Monday August 1, 2016.
“Workers will get their full salaries as been the practice. So the policy does not mean that there will be a cut in salary rather let us now find a way for our workers to supplement their salaries”.
However, the governor explained that those who will not be part of the new arrangement include the teachers, nurses, doctors and people involved in Internally Generated Revenue drive as well as political appointees.
The statement also revealed that the programme will be tried for a period of one year and because it will not affect the salaries of workers, the issue of annual leave and casual leave was therefore cancelled. Also, resumption time for work has changed from 8am to 7.30am in the morning and ends by 4pm. In view of this, the government threatened to dismiss any worker who is not found on his or her seat between 7.30am and 4pm on the days concerned.
The statement further stated that:
“Everybody must go back to agriculture. Every political appointee must own a farm. The youths would also be encouraged to take to agriculture. Schools including Universities, Polytechnics and Secondary schools in the state must own farms. The Community Government Council (CGC) must be strengthened for the sake of this agricultural programme.
“Two billion naira (N2,000,000,000) has been set aside at the Micro-Finance bank for the purpose of this ‘Back To Land For Agriculture’ policy so that those willing can access it. And time is gone again when politicians and some Imolites will come to government in the pretense of farming and collect loans and use it to buy cars and marry new wives.
“Again, the June and July Salaries would be paid this week. We are making sure that our workers are comfortable and our pensioners are happy because this is one area the whole nation is having a serious challenge.
“Our problem is not being unable to pay salaries but paying over-bloated salaries. We are also making effort to pay our pensioners once the harmonization is over.”
It went on to announce that the government has appealed to families and those who organise burials on Mondays to Wednesdays to change and have their burials on Saturdays in order to allow workers concentrate on the government’s work and on the farm, on the farming days.
The Imo State government also promised to support every agricultural venture in the state as a way of creating an escape from the on-going economic crisis caused by the fall in oil prices.