Supposedly, fresh off from sleep and within a blink of an eye, Gov. Owelle Rochas Kanayo Okorocha unilaterally enacted a policy, a two-week Christmas holiday for government workers in Imo State. Regardless of one’s position on the matter, with his pronouncement, the policy went into effect prompting all ministries to close for business on Friday, December 21, 2012. A public policy that has enormous potential for overwhelming impacts on the flaccid economy of Imo State may have been impulsively hatched and erratically implemented.
Lacking clarity, particularly as it relates to policy considerations and the intended policy outcomes, the two-week vacation for the ministries has received extensive discussions among the pundits, civil society organizations, and political commentators in various national dailies, as well as in the new media. The seeming strident palaver has odious response from supporters of Gov. Okorocha, which was insufficient to quell the braying criticisms from those who opposed the policy.
Well, look no further than the internet to truly grasp the intensity of the discussion on Gov. Okorocha’s two-week mandatory vacation for government workers—a discussion dominated by the governor’s former supporters who have now turned against him as they are riled by his load of intransigent actions. One of those former supporters is Mr. Cornelius Akubueze, an officer in the World Igbo Congress House of Delegates. Akubueze regrettably said, “My contention therefore is on whether the two-week vacation was based on any existing laws in the civil service edicts of Imo State or was it an erratic policy decision that the Governor has often been accused of since the inception of his administration.
Did our Governor follow rules? Acho, your investigation should explore this possibility. If he did not follow any existing civil service rules and failed to request such orders by a properly constituted legislative body, I submit then there are problems that need to be addressed. Democracy should not run on erratic policies and actions, it must be orderly.” In my research to ascertain if there was any precedent in Imo State to a two-week holiday for the civil servants since 1960, there was none to the two-week Christmas holiday policy. In any case, this policy has a broader implication of what is happening in Imo State.
It rather exposes a much deeper problem of unintelligible decision-making process among our leaders, which is major problem for the masses. The policy further reveals the abject lack of fundamental steps for a systematic public policy formulation, as well as lack of a clearly defined policy outcomes and the linkage of a public policy to the overall direction of the State. At this stage of governor’s term, all ideas should have been subjected to a methodical rigorous scrutiny as they are deliberated on within defined parameters before they become policies. The absence of a systematic policy development approach is alarming. Unfortunately, the two-week Christmas holiday policy just summarized Gov. Okorocha’s leadership acumen and his governance IQ.
In his usual kabuki governance, Gov. Rochas Kanayo Okorocha, once again demonstrated his lack of basic knowledge of how public policies are developed. Gov. Okorocha also lacks the knowledge of how policies stimulate or impede the economy as evidenced by his recent policy of irresponsibly giving a two-week vacation to the workers in all ministries in Imo State. This action is emblematic of Okorocha’s novelty in maladministration whereby he is drowning in his own dysfunctional thought-processes as his public approval is fast eroding. In fact, the chasm between Gov. Okorocha’s platitudes and real governance continues to grow wider and deeper with each passing day thereby shattering the inherent learning axiom—the learning curve.
By now one would have thought that Gov. Okorocha would have learned to be stable in his decision-making process. But he appears to be regressing. Nevertheless, some of Gov. Okorocha’s supporters weighed in with some tepid and bizarre justifications for the two-week vacation policy. They said that the vacation will create an opportunity for the children of the workers to learn Igbo language. Others say that the government offices are always shut down during the Christmas holidays, perhaps unofficially. In advancing this argument, Atty. Joe Atuenyi noted, “Nothing happens in any government office between December 15 and January of every year. So rather than keep the physical office open for a few stragglers to stroll in and stroll out , you could save the cost of diesel, cleaning materials, water and electricity consumption etc by formally shutting the place down for those two weeks.”
Though a flawed supposition that does not have a place in a civilized society where service and productivity are virtues of government workers, some people wrote to acquiesce with Atty. Atuenyi. In the same token, majority of the people who weighed in on the issue derided the vacuous policy with scornful statements. The farce two-week holiday literally shut down the entire state by paralyzing the state ministries. It has been argued that the policy created an undue burden to the plurality of people in the state and in some cases, the denial of opportunities.
For instance, young adults who were supposed to collect from the ministry or their respective local government offices the Niger Delta Development Corporation (NDDC) scholarship forms that were due on December 31, 2012 were left in the cold. As a result of this policy, these individual lost the NDDC scholarship opportunity that would have helped them to further their education. Sad still, some people who wanted to collect tax clearance documents for various reasons or collect information from their local government for their ePassport application process were left stranded because of the two-week holiday.
Also, some people could not renew their vehicle registration due to two-week government shut down. To avoid the unnecessary inconvenience of being stopped by the police, many of these people had to go to another state for the vehicle registration. Thus, the revenues various ministries would have generated were lost. Suffice to say that Gov. Okorocha should have understood by now that it was not sufficient to focus on the temporary emotional palliative effects of the two-week holiday on one segment of Imo State population—government workers without considering the deleterious impacts of the policy on the rest of the people.
Any systematic approach to developing the policy would have exposed all ramifications before considering the policy. I hope that the governor will learn from this fuss. However, many insiders have characterized the governor as having an attitude of “onye agwalam”—no one should advise me. Why does he have advisers? Sadly, instead of learning to do things that will endear him to the people who yawn for his success, this governor is willing to throw the state into chaos by enacting unsystematic public policies to the chagrin of those who originally staked out everything to support him.
To those who opposed the governor from the get go, they saw this coming based on his antecedents—the flaws his supporters were loath to accept. Those who vehemently opposed Okorocha knew that his election has troubles written all over it for the state. And sooner or later the faux charisma would vanish into a thin air; and now it is happening to the detriment of the masses.