By Harry Awurumibe, State House, Abuja
Imo State Governor Hope Uzodinma has disclosed that his state is currently in financial distress even as he said that Imo has become an educational backward state.
Speaking to State House Correspondents today (Thursday) in Abuja after paying a courtesy visit to President Muhammadu Buhari at Presidential Villa, Uzodinma revealed that Imo State Government under his watch has no money to carry out its basic functions hence he has come to plead with President Buhari to see the wisdom to grant his request for the Federal Government to refund Imo state the sum of N32 billion spent on rehabilitation of Federal roads within the state.
Said Gov. Uzodinma, “I came to discuss this with President on some critical areas. Imo State you know is not solvent. Imo State is financially distressed, the roads are so bad, security situation is rough, education is backward and a lot of things to do and we don’t have the money.
“So I have come to request the kind intervention of Mr. President to at least refund some monies spent on some of the Federal roads in Imo State before my arrival so that we can address some pressing issues like pension arrears, salary areas so that we can get back the people, recover the people first before we begin to talk of infrastructure.
Asked how much he is looking forward to receive from the Federal Government, the Governor said that “the Consultants are still working but so far we have computed the monies in the neighborhood of N32 billion and my first application to Mr. President, I articulated those ones that will have prior approval before construction and a total sum of N12 billion has been recorded and I have submitted the request and in his magnanimity, he has assured me that he will look into it very considerably.
On what different will the money make in the state in the face of the many problems he has enumerated, he said: “Well, a journey of one thousand miles will start with one step. Wherever it can take us to, it will be a lift even if for palliative purposes. Whatever we will be able to achieve with whatever intervention given to us by Mr. President. It does not necessarily mean that all those monies owed to us will be given to us”.
Uzodinma however argued that; “There are so many other ways of Federal Government intervening in critical situations like we find ourselves in Imo State”.
Asked if he thinks that corruption is responsible for the hopelessness his administration has find itself in Imo State because the National Bureau on Statistics in its latest rating reports that Imo State is the least corrupt state in Nigeria, he said; “Well, that is a very good commendation from them but if I begin to look into what led into the situation we have in Imo now, I will be spending economic times and it will amount to waste. But however, whatever may be the case, we will be prudent in the way we manage whatever will be given to us in terms of intervention”.
Confronted with the question that the administration of ex- Governor Rochas Okorocha made much strides in education and offered free education so what is the problem now. He answered thus:
“Today is not for me to begin to discuss the activities of past administration, a time will come when we shall discuss in a very holistic manner that you will get every information you need”.
On what he is going to do in Imo State to get more money to execute his government’s programmes, he said “It is good to be a creative thinker as a leader. I will look into how to make my IGR worthwhile. We will look for what are the peculiarities on ground and do those things that will be over tasking the citizens for the purposes of raising money.
“We will do what will be a win win situation between the government and the people of Imo State in such a manner that those who are paying the money will not suffer from harsh environment, it will be willing to support the government and government also will not be losing monies. For instance, if you have these petty traders, people whose incomes are between zero to one hundred thousand nara a month, running after them to pay tax, for me it does not make any strong sense. We should look at our tax regimes and policies and see how we can get a review to some of them”.