– Lists major achievements
The Governor of Imo State, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha in his new year address, has thanked the people of Imo State for electing him and his deputy, Engr. Gerald Irona, under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to pilot the affairs of Imo State for the next four years as Governor and Deputy, respectively.
This he said is a sacred trust bestowed on them to rebuild Imo State to the satisfaction of all inhabitants and residents. He however added repositioning and transformation into his Rebuild Imo Agenda, and hoped that will change the landscape into a “modern ecosystem”.
Continuing, Governor Emeka Ihedioha reminded Imolites that year 2020 is the famed year of all possibilities. “Metaphorically, 2020 also symbolizes complete vision. Here in Imo State, our vision for the future is very clear and we believe that all these possibilities are still attainable. I say so because, we have the determination of a committed Executive Team, the partnership of a collaborative Legislature, the wisdom of an independent Judiciary and the heart-warming support of an enlightened, God-fearing and hardworking people”, he stated.
He listed the following as his achievements in seven months. “By your prayers support and partnership, the last seven months have been both a period of liberation and that of laying the foundation for effective take-off. Our collective accomplishments in pursuit of the Rebuild Imo Agenda imbue us with a very strong faith in a positive and prosperous future.
Our harmonious working relationship with the Legislature has resulted in an unprecedented record breaking 18 Bills passed and signed into Law since we were sworn-in. This is an enviable milestone by any standards.
Government has also established strong links to multilateral development partners and we are attracting donor-agencies funds for programs to virtually all sectors ranging from water projects to erosion control, rural access roads, healthcare, agriculture and education.
In keeping with this promise, one of the first actions I took as Governor was to direct the release of N500million (Five Hundred Million Naira) counterpart funding in order to activate in the first instance, the N9.9 Billion (nine billion, nine hundred million naira) funding for the Urualla Erosion Control Project in Ideato North LGA from the World Bank New Map Projects. Similarly, “we paid Counterpart funding to catalyse the Rural Access and Mobility Project (RAMP) valued at N13.5 billion (Thirteen billion, five hundred million naira) also from the World Bank”. Under this programme, works are ongoing in 88 rural roads projects covering 380.7km of roads, across 26 Local Governments Areas.
In our campaigns, and indeed upon assumption of Office, we undertook to reposition our Local Governments to become strong centres of effective grassroot governance. In furtherance to this, we have restored their financial autonomy resulting in their receiving fund allocations directly, and in full too.
Under our constitutional oversight, all the Local Governments are constructing new secretariat complexes to provide conducive working environment for workers. For social amenities and youth development, we are partnering with the Local Governments also to construct mini-stadia or upgrade existing ones. I am glad to say that only a few days ago, I commissioned the Ultra-Modern Local Government Secretariat Complex at Ahiazu Mbaise, The first among those projects to be completed.
I have severally stressed that to fund meaningful development, we cannot depend on monthly Federal allocations. Not only are these funds static, they are subject to deductions emanating from our past debts and refund on bailout funds received. In any case, we are currently spend about 73% of these allocations on salaries and pensions leaving us with barely nothing for other myriads of challenges confronting us. It has became imperative therefore that we had to strengthen our IGR mechanisms. We are very delighted to note that from about N250m (Two Hundred and Fifty Million naira) that we met on ground monthly, IGR has risen to over One (1) billion in the month of December 2019. We are focused on an exponential increase in 2020. Furthermore, this 2020, we will be looking into optimally deriving benefits from our Oil and Gas endowments – revenues , employment, wealth creation, sustainable development etc.
I assure you that Imo is “Open For Business”. Our dedicated ‘ease of doing business’ desk is there to address bottlenecks potential investors may face. Our efforts are gradually yielding results. Only recently, we allocated land in Owerri to AfrExim Bank, to build its quality assurance facility for the South-East and South-South zones. The facility is estimated to cost over $50million (N18Billion) and would surely boost our economy and commercial profile. Currently, 6 airlines are now operating in the Sam Mbakwe International Cargo Airport, a clear indication of the rising investor confidence in Imo State.
Human Capital Development remains our fulcrum in the “Rebuild Imo” Agenda. Therefore, training our people is thus our focus. In 2019, we trained over 6000 teachers, while this year would witness massive training and retraining of our teachers in different skills for managing 21st century teaching skills. Government has also approved funds needed for re-accreditation of all courses in Imo Polytechnic Umuagwo which were lost during the decay of the last eight years. In addition, we have made the study of Igbo Language now mandatory for all students in both public and private secondary schools in Imo State.
In pursuit of Food self-sufficiency, as well as harnessing commercial advantage, Agriculture is our priority. We have trained over 600 Imo youths under our Youth-in-Agriculture programme and would be advancing loans to interested applicants among them to start their own agribusiness.
We are poised to bridging the huge infrastructural deficit that we met on ground, we have about 30 on-going road construction projects distributed all around the State. These projects are quickly changing the transportation landscape of the State. I regret the temporary inconvenience these construction activities have caused our citizens this festive period. It is however, a worthwhile sacrifice as we shall in return inherit a durable and well-constructed road network in the state.
To compliment this, we are pursuing an aggressive housing development programme. Just last month, we performed the ground-breaking ceremony for a 1000 Housing Unit Rebuild Imo Estate in Azara-Owalla in Emekuku, Owerri North under a Public-Private-Partnership arrangement. In addition to this, we will develop Satellite Housing estates serviced with infrastructure State-wide to decongest the capital city and stimulate rural development.
In the area of public financial management, government has implemented strategic reforms through the Treasury Single Account (TSA) thereby stemming revenue leakages, and closing up the multiplicity of over 260 different accounts in operation before we came to office. In the same vein, we adopted the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS). Our reforms have strengthened the implementation of the State Public Procurement Law, commenced the implementation of Due Process, transparency, accountability and value for money in the award of State and Local Government contracts”, he concluded.