The popular Staff Development Center located near St. Patrick Catholic Church; Kpri-Kpiri last week became the busiest area in the heart of the capital city, Abakiliki as it witnessed unprecedented number of interested political appointees struggling to submit their applications for appointment into the state cabinet.
The jostle to submit applications by applicants seeking for political appointments was triggered by the new pronouncement of the Ebonyi state governor, Engr. David Umahi who had asked interested candidates to indicate by applying through to the office of the Head of Service situated at Abakiliki.
The positions indicated in the advertisement which was also aired in the state owned radio and television station include the post for Commissioners, Senior Special Assistants, Special Assistants as well as Coordinators for the existing 64 Development Centers.
The calls for applications were also for the post of Special Technical Assistant, Technical Assistant, Board members for the various existing institutions owned by the state government and as well as management committee members for the existing 13 local government areas and 64 Development Centers.
For the 64 Development Centers, it is expected that about 512 persons will be appointed to serve as management committee members with monthly take home of about N54,000 per person while Special Technical Assistant and Technical Assistant which had over 500 members in the governor’s first tenure have monthly take home of N150,000 and N100, 000 respectively.
While Special Assistants receive N250, 000 as monthly take home pay Commissioners go home with N350, 000. The total number of aides that served in governor Umahi’ first tenure was more than 1,500 and it is expected that he would exceed this number in his second tenure.
This, perhaps, explains the mad rush that greeted the submission for the applications which has since closed even as those who applied are anxious about their fate as the state governor has continue to announce his list of cabinet members.
Daily Trust on Sunday gathered that first to be announced were principal officers followed by Special/Senior Assistants then commissioners while those to serve at the local government level would come last.
Those who applied for Senior/Special Assistants and Commissionership positions had the second highest number of applicants followed by Special Technical Assistants and Technical Assistants which had about Thirteen Thousand applicants (13,000).
“This is followed by those who applied for the post of Special Assistants and Senior Special Assistants and commissionership post”, said a female staff at the office of Head of service.
Political analysts and observers have, however, raised concerns over the development. Mr. Nwali Augustine, a miner and a native of Ukaghu in Onicha local government of the state, attributed the move to what he termed unfriendly economic policies occasioned by tax burden of the state government.
“People are leaving their businesses to join politics where they feel that they cannot be heavily or always be threatened by state tax collectors. For instance, we in the mining sector in the state are the worse hit and that is why many sites have been closed.
Mr. Augustine however appealed to the state government to reduce its huge tax and create conducive environment for investors to come.
Another analyst, barr. Pascal Nnaji, believed that it was test intended to unveil how people are willing to join forces with governor Umahi towards the development and upliftment of the state.
“Peoples’ idea of governance always very, so he many have done that to know those or identify those that want to join hands with him towards the development and upliftment of the state,” he said.
Mr. Ugochukwu Akam, a businessman in the capital city, Abakiliki, upheld the perception that politics remains the only assumed lucrative business in the eyes of many in the state.
He maintained that the application approach hold no water adding that governor Umahi had already known those that would make his cabinet.
“Ebonyians attach great value to politics unlike other states in the south east with industries, that is just the cause here. The rate of unemployment is high.
“So the governor already known those that will make his cabinet; it is not the issue of applications. Ninety percent of those he appointed to serve as Special Assistant, Senior Special Assistant and the current list commissioners he sent to the state house of assembly for screening nerve applied for it”, he added.
Findings by Daily Trust on Sunday observed that since the inception of Democracy in 1999, governor Umahi’s led administration has the highest numbers of political appointees when compared with previous regimes of Dr. Sam Egwu and Chief Martin Elechi respectively.
Also, it is huge financial burden as salaries and allowances including impress, runs close to a billions naira monthly. This has caused the government to cut down subvention or allowances made to some institutions and other state establishments.
Hon. Francis Nwaze, Special Assistant to governor Umahi on Media/Documents, told Daily Trust on Sunday that Umahi’ approach was to pick the best.
“We have seen what the governor achieved in just 4 years and Ebonyians are hopeful to see more oriented projects. So the governor is very mindful of this and that is why he doesn’t want any interference but to work with the best team to deliver,” he added.
It would be recalled that Umahi’ had occasionally expressed dismay over the poor work attitude observed among those that served as cabinet members during his first tenure.
“This is time to work and not time to chop. This is what many of my cabinet members did not believe in during my first tenure but I want to tell you today that it will longer be the same again; it is now time to work.
“So I want those of you today who have taken oath of office to serve as members of my cabinet to be dutiful, don’t work or send me memos through phone and when you write memo always create four options for choice.
“And we have said it time repeatedly that no cultist will make the list. And in the area of education and Agriculture, we want the best for the state, so we are going to advertise for these two positions on the pages of newspapers and we don’t mind where the person is from, this is very important,” he explained.
The list of first batch of Commissioners were released last week comprising the likes of Mr. Stanley Okoro Emegha, Ogbonnaya Obasi Abara and Chief Oluchukwu Ukie Ezeali as new appointees while the immediate past commissioner for Works, Fidelis Nweze and his counterpart in the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Samuel Okoronkwo were re-appointed.
Others reappointed were Barr. Orji Uchenna Orji, Emmanuel I. Nwobo, Mrs. Elizabeth Ogbaga , Dr. Sunday Zijl Nwangele and Chief Moses Ogodoali Nome, Dr. Daniel Akuma Umezurike, Mrs. Deborah Chinwe Okah, Prof. Ogbonnaya Chukwu, Mrs. Rebecca Nwamaka Ogbuewu and Emmanuel Uguru and Mr. Charles Akpuenika, former commissioner for Sports and Youths Development.
The nominees were consequently invited to appear before the Ebonyi State House of Assembly for screening from Tuesday 23rd July.