A Journalist with the Imo State Government, has been suspended indefinitely from her job, for taking to Facebook to request for her 3 months unpaid salaries, and the wages of her co-workers.
Government Officials said that the Facebook post was an “embarrassment” to the Imo State Government.
The suspended Journalist, Vivian Ottih, is a Lawyer and a Senior Editor with the government-owned Imo Broadcasting Corporation, IBC, Orient FM radio station.
She is the Chairperson of the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists, NAWOJ, in Imo State.
Mrs. Ottih, had on May 4, posted a message on Facebook, appealing to Governor Hope Uzodinma’s Media Aide, Modestus Nwamkpa, to make a case to the Governor on behalf of the workers in the government-owned radio and television stations, who were yet to get their February, March, and April salaries.
Mrs. Ottih described Governor Uzodinma as a “humble” and “performing” Governor, and said that the Governor may not have been aware of the travails of the workers.
She stated in the post that she was personally hard-hit by the situation, because she just had a baby weeks earlier.
The Journalist, in her subsequent post on May 7, thanked the Commissioner for Information in the State, Declan Emelumba, for intervening on behalf of the unpaid workers, adding: “God bless you, Sir.”
On May 8, four days after, she was queried by the Imo Broadcasting Corporation.
The query, signed by the Acting Director-General of the Corporation, Osuchukwu S. O., said to Mrs. Ottih: “I am directed to let you know that this your attitude caused serious embarrassment to Imo State Government, thereby ridiculing the government in the eyes of the public, with the sole aim of sabotaging the government.”
Mrs. Ottih’s response to the query was deemed unsatisfactory by the Imo State Government, which went ahead to suspend her indefinitely from her job.
The State government queried the Journalist again on May 15, accusing her of posting the previous query on the social media.
The Information Commissioner, Emelumba, said that the government was not responsible for the delay in payment of salaries. He stated that the Management of the Imo Broadcasting Corporation “refused” to submit the workers’ BVN and bank account details as directed by the government.
Emelumba noted that the government wants to pay workers’ salaries centrally, in order to eliminate “ghost workers”, instead of allowing the various establishments to collect money from the State Government to pay their staff, as was done in the past.
A Journalist in Imo State, said that Mrs. Ottih made the appeal for the payment of the workers’ salaries, because she was under pressure from fellow Journalists who were also being owed by the State Government.
Emelumba however, said that Mrs. Ottih posted the Facebook message as an individual person, not as the NAWOJ Chairperson.
“Even if she were to issue the statement on behalf of NAWOJ, she would still be wrong, because she could only speak for women Journalists, and not for all the workers of the IBC.
“RATTAWU (the radio Television Theatre and Art Workers Union of Nigeria) has the statutory duty to do that, but they did not do that, because they were consulting (with government Officials over the issue)”, the Commissioner said.
The Commissioner revealed that the NAWOJ Chairperson, could have used other channels of communication, instead of taking the issue to Facebook.
When asked why the government did not sanction the Corporation for delaying to send the bank details of their workers as requested by the government, the Commissioner said: “If we did it as you would expect, people would accuse the government of being insensitive.”
The Commissioner added that he sent out a statement last week, giving the Parastatals a deadline to comply with the government’s directive.
“IBC has complied anyway; I think they are about getting their salary, if they have not gotten it.”