Imo Govt Cancels Productivity Merit Awards Midstream


The Imo State Government on Saturday, September 24 cancelled its first-ever Productivity Merit Awards ceremony while the event was already in full-swing.

Dignitaries from all walks of life including potential awardees and their invitees had thronged the venue, Landmark Events Centre, Owerri preening in their sartorial best.

Some flew in from Lagos while others flew in from Abuja and other parts of the country to be physically present. 

The auditorium was tastefully decorated and a buffet set to satiate the taste buds of the salivating guests.

By 2:00pm, some guests were already comfortably seated to wait for the commencement of the programme which was scheduled to start by 4:00pm.

Our correspondent gathered that the awardees exchanged banters and received accolades from friends. The elated awardees also wore smiles in self-fulfillment.

But as minutes dragged into hours without the event kicking off, the guests and awardees became uneasy.

Their smiling faces turned gloomy. It was like seeing the Promised Land and being unable to enter it.

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The award plaques and certificates were ready but it cannot be presented because the person to present them, the state governor, Senator Hope Uzodimma was nowhere in the hall.

National Newsbreak gathered that his protocol team had earlier inspected the venue and ascertained the proper seating arrangement meant for the governor. Ditto for the deputy governor, Prof. Placid Njoku, who was also scheduled to grace the occasion.

Our source said at a point rumours filtered into the hall that the governor would no longer grace the occasion.

The state Commissioner for Labour, Employment and Productivity, Chief Ford Ozumba was reported to have become flustered by the news of the governor not showing up.

Meanwhile, the live band was busy dishing out sonorous music to the enjoyment of the guests who were not privy to the development.

Chief Ozumba ordered that food be served the guests for them to keep waiting in the hope that the governor might change his mind. If the food was not munched, it would turn out to be a monumental waste of resources.

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A source disclosed that the governor reneged in gracing the occasion because the Office of the Chief of Staff (CoS) Government House Owerri had briefed him that the list of the awardees contained ‘some strange names’.

The appropriate thing would have been to weed off the ‘strange names’ on the list and confer awards on the real recipients. That was not done. But what is the importance of an award ceremony without conferment of awards?

Our source further disclosed that the list was sent to the governor through his Chief Political Adviser, Chief Enyinna Onuegbu about two months ago for ratification.

The source said it was difficult to establish at what point the list was doctored or the ‘strange names’ were smuggled into the list.

The source asked; “Was it that the list never got to the governor or he ratified it and some people smuggled the strange names. Also at what point did the Office of the CoS discover the smuggled names? Was it as the event was on?”

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This was how the first-ever Imo State Productivity Merit Awards was botched.

All efforts to get the commissioner to speak on the cancellation proved abortive. 


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