Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo State has bemoaned and lamented the sordid and sorry state of affairs he inherited from his two immediate past predecessors, Emeka Ihedioha and Rochas Okorocha.
Apart from the absence of a handover note or a transition period which most governors use as preparatory phase to activate governance, he has announced that he inherited a complete empty treasury, a disillusioned, disoriented and dispirited civil service with a state secretariat complex that is close to a piggery. Uzodinma disclosed these worrisome and disturbing ugly situations while addressing Imolites on the occasion of his first 100 days in office which he said were used to galvanize official activities, renovate the state secretariat, pursue Covid-19 pandemic and hit the ground running.
In the seemingly lengthy, detailed and insightful address, Senator Uzodinma lamented that he inherited a public service sector that was riddled with corruption and massive fraud adding that the amount of Imo state money that has been siphoned through the public sector over the years was mind blowing and incredible. “For instance the payroll system he inherited is corruption riddled with those he identified as few heartless people regularly siphoning huge sums of money from the public coffers or till”.
Governor Uzodinma spoke of a cabal responsible for the massive hemorrhage of the state treasury who he added are presently deploying their well known and oiled channels for mis-information and propaganda to subdue every attempt to unravel the rot in the state civil service. He then announced that his administration has recorded success in the fight to cleanse the public service of pervasive corruption whereby a startling trend has consistently hemorrhaged the state treasury from which a whopping N2 billion is now saved from the well packed fraud whereby, “out of the 56,000 workforce, only 17,000 persons are captured in the income tax payee”. “More mesmerizing is the fact that the nominal roll of pensioners has stood at 30,000 for ten years” now signaling that there has been no retirement in the last ten years and that no pensioner has died either”, he stressed.
More pathetic according to Governor Uzodinma is the absence of a BVN security in payment of staff salaries with multiple entries of the same BVN for different names on the payroll. “It was incredible to observe that some people earned salaries as civil servants and at the same time earned pension as pensioners”, he uttered.
Turning to his immediate predecessor, Emeka Ihedioha especially on the dilapidated state of Government House Owerri, Governor Hope Uzodinma stated that whereas Ihedioha had earmarked and appropriated a whopping N800 million for mere repairs or renovation of structures, it cost him only N177 million to achieve this feat. Furthermore, Ihedioha had while in office for seven months awarded 25 road contracts at a total cost of N43 billion but none was completed despite huge payments. He accused Ihedioha of fleecing Imo state further with the use of middle men in the generation and remittance of Internal resources which rather than N1.2 billion as presently recorded, reduced the amount to N600 million monthly within the last three months without consultants or middle men, the IGI has remained N2 billion monthly.
“I consider it a great achievement that through these painstaking exercise of eradicating the stinking fraud in the public service payroll system, the sum of N2bn (Two Billion Naira) is saved every month for the state. This huge sum will be ploughed back to infrastructural development. This means that the Government will be able to deliver more roads, more housing and better hospitals and schools in the coming months and years.
“Let me use this opportunity to appeal to my esteemed Imo people to walk with us in this journey of blocking a few wicked people from stealing from our commonwealth through payroll fraud.
I appeal to our people to understand that if there are temporary delays in payment of salaries it is never for lack of funds but because we are determined to stop the payroll cabal from fleecing our commonwealth .
Let me reiterate my early commitment to pay salaries on or before the end of every month. While I intend to keep this promise religiously, I will nonetheless allow the payroll cabal to use it as an excuse to blackmail me into paying nonexistent staff salaries that end up in their private pockets.
The next line of action after sanitizing public service finances is to consider all reports from committees and departments of government. To this end we shall do everything within our behest to recover every government asset wrongly appropriated by individuals or persons. Imo people should trust me to recover to the last value any government asset in private hands, no matter who is involved.
Looking ahead and as a proactive measure to ensure a corruption free wage management system, a data centre has been established by the government. The data centre is in the process of automating all Salary Payments by the Government as well as all procurements.
Henceforth, through the centre, workers can download their monthly pay slips as evidence of gainful employment which will also enable them access to social services across the Country. The advantage of this arrangement is that every Staff will have direct access to his or her salary payment details. Moreso the management of a workers salary will no longer be a secret to him or her.
The data centre also ensures complete transparency in the Management of workers welfare. Henceforth, the salary of every staff of the State at all levels is auto-computed on a monthly basis with provision for imputing non-regular items such as deductions, allowances, fines, loan repayments etc.
I am equally glad to announce that the sorry state of the State Secretariat is now history. All the blocks have been re- roofed and are being re-painted .The four gigantic 2500 KVA stand-by generators abandoned for years have been repaired and are now functional. This means that the Secretariat is in a position to have steady power supply.
Also the central borehole, which has been non functional for years, has been rehabilitated .Water supply has consequently been restored at the Secretariat. The sum total is that our long abandoned Secretariat now wears a new human look, ready for business.
Determined to boost the low morale of the Civil Service, my administration provided official cars to all permanent secretaries. In a few weeks time, staff buses for junior civil servants, which have been procured, will become operational. The buses will pick junior civil servants from designated locations, which will include local government headquarters.
” It is sad to note that on assumption of office, the Governor’s Office and Lodge were in a state of utter disrepair. The previous administration abandoned both and preferred instead to make due with a make shift bush bar or Odenigbo guest houses as governor’s office. This indiscretion on the part of past administrations made governance a public laughing stock. It reduced Government business to a child’s play.
Meanwhile the Governor’s Office and Lodge became available for the tenancy of rats and rodents. This situation was unacceptable to me.
Equally, the renovation of the abandoned Governor’s Lodge is 80% completed. This means that in a few weeks time, the Lodge will resume its role as the official home of the Office of the Governor of Imo State.
All internal roads within the Government House Compound are being rehabilitated. Sam Mbakwe Exco Chambers which was run down has also been renovated.
These immediate steps taken by this administration within the first 100 days in office by reviving the morale of the Civil Service, cleansing the public sector of a corrupt system that was choking the State to a comatose, giving the State Secretariat a much needed facelift and restoring the official Office and Lodge of the Governor to reckoning, all add up to the restoration of the dignity and respect of Government as an institution. Once again, after many years, those who have reason to do business with government will see us as serious and reliable partners.
In the area of physical infrastructure, we are toeing a new direction of efficiency in the allocation of scarce resources. Before now, government industrial and commercial investment have been allowed to go to waste through fruitless concessions that put money in the pockets of powerful individuals while robbing the State of its deserved return on investment. One of such establishments is the ADAPALM Estate in Ohaji- Egbema.
We have made that industry a test case of our resolve to wrest control of the destiny of Ndimo from carpetbaggers, whose only interest is to fleece the public treasury for their own vile agenda. We created an interim board of directors with very capable members for ADAPALM. Already the result is very encouraging. ADAPALM, I am very proud to declare, is back on the tracks of producing first grade palm oil , since April this year. Currently the oil mill is producing 100/metric tonnes per day.
In the last fifteen years, the inhabitants of Owerri our state capital, have been without public water supply, depending instead on privately owned boreholes for daily water. This sad situation has replicated itself in Orlu and Okigwe where the Imo State Water and Sewage Corporation abandoned its mandate through incapacitation or willful negligence of past administrations.
Today, however, I am pleased to inform my good people of Imo State that water is flowing once more through the Otamiris Water Scheme after an extensive turn around maintenance. Such an exercise was last carried out in 1996. The maintenance project, carried out in collaboration with International financial partners (World Bank), involved the repair of a 200KV vertical turbine pump, replacement of its starter control panel, desilting of its raw water tank, aeration and fluctuation chambers among other important repair works.
My desire to carry out this important project was inspired by the pitiable sight of children and women, youth and adults hurling jerry cans all over the place looking for clean drinking water. I was no less concerned about the health risks of water borne diseases which was afflicting our people through the use of untreated water. I don’t know if any other project will give me as much pleasure as the rehabilitation of the Otamiri Water Scheme.
On the area of road construction, my administration met on ground the award of contracts for 25 roads for different parts of the state at the cost of N43Billion. l had no problem asking the contractors to continue with the contracts, because I believe that government is a continuum, even when I met an empty treasury.
This explains why Owerri capital is always flooded during raining season.
Consequently, the following roads and drainage system were identified for immediate emergency rehabilitation to guarantee a flood free Owerri capital before the rains start. These six (6) roads which are almost completed and will be commissioned in a few days time are:
1. Oparanozie Street to Relief Market Road,
2. Chukwuma Nwaoha Relief Market Road,
3. Assumpta World Bank Road,
4. Assumpta Roundabout to Concorde Junction,
5. Dick Tiger- Egbu Junction road and
6 Dick Tiger Aladinma Lake Nwaebere Road
Other roads completed by my administration within the first 100days in office are:
1. Umuaka internal Road in Njaba L.G.A. (4 Kilometers)
2. Amaigbo – Njaba Road (14Kilometres)
3. Mgbidi – Omuma Road
“As the saying goes, heaven helps those who help themselves. Evidently, therefore, the responsible conduct of Imo citizens in heeding instructions to stay safe has contributed in no small measure to our current status. As unfortunate as these reported covid-19 case maybe, it should serve as a reminder to all of us that the Coronavirus pandemic is real. We should therefore take the recommended safety measures more seriously.
Another laudable landmark in our 100 days in office is that the State Government under my watch has enlisted 5000 (Five Thousand) graduates of tertiary institutions for a Graduate Entrepreneurship Training Scheme that will offer training to interested graduates to run their own businesses and create employment with government financial support.
Yes, Imo is on the path to a big turnaround for great things and history will record that the foundation began in 2020 with this government.
On internal Revenue Generation I am proud to announce that we have increased Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the state from N600M a month to N1.2B. This great feat was achieved partly by eliminating the middlemen in the Internal Revenue Generation chain who were paid 50% of internally generated revenue in the name of Consultants, and partly through sheer creative ingenuity.
Our target is to automate the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) process and ensure that all internal revenue generated are paid into a Single Treasury Account (TSA). With these measures in place, leakages in internal Revenue receipts would have been eradicated, and the stage set for the government to net in a monthly Internally Generated Revenue target of N5Billion To this end, we are working assiduously to capture in the state revenue menu, revenues due to the Board of Internal Revenue, from oil companies, oil servicing companies and financial institutions operating in the state.
Arrangements are almost conclusive in this direction and I am confident that sooner than later this goal will be accomplished.
Even more worthy of celebration is that within 100 days in office we have revived the Statesman Newspapers. That tabloid which used to be the flagship and pride of the South East but which has been in coma for many years, is now back in full force. It has returned to a daily newspaper to the glory of God and the pride of Imo state.
Mindful of the fact that in all things we do, the security of life and property is the key to a peaceful environment for business and private engagements, my administration has taken the bull by the horn to ensure a zero crime rate in the state. Consequently, we have provided 150 security pick up patrol vans, for a combined team of the military, the police, State security Services and other security agencies, under our operation Search and Flush (SAF) security outfit, to police the state on a 24 hour basis.
These patrol vehicles have inbuilt modern communication gadgets which connects them to the emergency call center. Any distress call on a crime event to the call centre will be automatically transferred to the patrol van nearest to the scene of crime and it will respond rapidly.
I am sure that you would have observed that crime rate is abating in the state this good report card is all thanks to God and our new, efficient and effective SAF outfit. Almost on a daily basis they have been busting one crime syndicate or the other.
My beloved NDIMO, I want to assure you that I have come to serve. I have come to define good governance. I have come to prove that our people have not been caused with bad governance since the end of the De Sam Mbakwe. era, as people have been bemoaning. I have come to demonstrate that from among us a good government can emerge to offer sincere, honest, purposeful and incorruptible governance.
Hold me on my words and read my lips: Under my watch there will be zero public sector corruption. Imo state will witness unprecedented developmental strides that will make our people glorify God
I recognize that if not for Divine intervention I would not have been able to recover my stolen mandate. I cannot therefore afford to fail either God or NDIMO.
I thank you my beloved brothers and sisters for your support and love so far. Let us resolve to give our best to the only state we can truly call our own. I am confident that together we will take Imo to the next level”, he stated in his maiden 100 days in office address.