Uzodinma meets Buhari, says Imo is financially distressed
Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo State on Thursday declared that the state was financially distressed and educationally backward.
Senator Uzodinma, who was declared governor by Supreme Court on 14th January said that infrastructure in the state especially roads were in bad shape.
Speaking to State House correspondents after meeting behind closed doors with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, he said the essence of the meeting was to ask for the President’s intervention on critical areas in the state and a request for the refund of money used by the previous administration to repair federal roads which was about N32 billion.
Uzodinma said that the state was in dire need of financial intervention from the federal government with its insolvent situation presently.
According to him, “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, the 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 was looking at, he said: “The Consultants are still working but so far we have computed the monies in the neighbourhood 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. ”
Also asked what difference the financial intervention would make in the state, Uzodinma 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 was given to us by Mr President. It does not necessarily mean that all those monies owed to us will be given to us.
“There are so many other ways of Federal Government intervening in critical situations as we find ourselves in Imo State.”
Fielding question on whether corruption was responsible for the state of hopelessness which he said the state was into not minding that the National Bureau of Statistics in its latest rating when Emeka Ihedioha was the governor reported that Imo State is the least corrupt state in Nigeria, he said he will look into what led the state in the pitiable condition.
Uzodinma also added that “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.”
On why he said that the state was educationally backwards when the administration of Rochas Okorocha made many strides in education and offered free education, he said it was not yet time to talk about the previous administrations.
“Today is not for me to begin to discuss the activities of the past administration, a time will come when we shall discuss in a very holistic manner that you will get every information you need,” he said.
On what he was going to do in the state to improve the economic base of the state, he said: “It is good to be a creative thinker as a leader. I will look into how to make my IGR (Internally Generated Revenue) 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 a harsh environment, they 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 naira 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,” Uzodinma said.