Last Monday when Fides visited the headquarters of the Anambra State workforce, Jerome Udoji Secretariat, Awka, to ascertain the compliance level to the state government’s earlier directive for workers to be reporting to work on Mondays, the place was deserted save for few workers clustered at the car park deep in discussion.
Although the main gate of the secretariat was open (it used to be closed), the front of the offices looked forlorn. Upon inquiry, Fides gathered that no form of work was going on and that the few who had managed to come would soon go home.
It was learnt that the open gate and the few workers that came, arose from the latest directive to workers by the office of the Head of Service for activities to resume on Mondays. However, our findings revealed that the directive is not likely to yield dividends any time soon.
The Monday sit at home phenomenon started when a Biafra agitation group led by detained Nnamdi Kanu, directed the people of the entire Southeast Zone to remain indoors every Monday in solidarity with Kanu to show their unhappiness with his detention. Very soon, people were told to also stay indoors anytime Kanu would appear in court.
These directives, ordinarily, would not have generated any untoward development had they been well handled. For instance, the agitators began to force compliance, destroying people’s property, maiming and even killing those who defaulted their directive. As a result, many people became afraid to run foul of their order and began to stay indoors on such days.
But there is also a group of people who began to stay indoors. These are civil servants. Many of them started using the violent enforcement of the sit at home directive as an excuse to stay away from work.
It is this last reason that is making the various government offices to become deserted on Mondays. This, in itself, is an embarrassment for the government which has been threatening to deal with workers who failed to report for work on Mondays.
Coupled with this, is the fact that outside the Awka Metropolis which is largely safe, other places are not. This means that even workers who ordinarily would have liked to come to work cannot come, especially as there have been attacks on isolated roads on such days which ultimately deter many from leaving their homes.
It is also a fact that despite government’s best efforts to arrest the situation, government can still not provide all-round protection for the citizenry as the hoodlums can attack at any place and retreat. To this end, it becomes difficult for government to blame workers coming from outside the state capital for not coming to work.
Thus, we have two categories of workers: those who conveniently use the excuse of violent attacks to stay home and those who want to report to work but are genuinely afraid of exposing themselves to danger. This is why the government is hamstrung in ordering workers to defy the sit at home directive by the agitators.
The only thing left is for the citizenry to assist the government in ending this phenomenon which has been crippling the economy of the Southeast Zone. Leaving it only for the government is never going to work.
Once everybody begins to report suspicious characters to the law enforcement agents and stop spreading false rumours, including circulating videos of attacks by the hoodlums, a difference will be made.
Anything other than this, the Southeast may as well accept the fact that schools and businesses will be operating four and five days in a week. This is not what we want.