Imo Governor seeks President Buhari’s support on infrastructure

Cyril Okonkwo, Abuja

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Imo State Governor, Emeka Ihedioha.

Imo State Governor, Emeka Ihedioha has met President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday to seek for support in the development of infrastructure in the State.

Ihedioha, who spoke with State House correspondents after the meeting, said his visit was to strengthen ties between the Nigerian government and the Imo State government.

“We certainly have to work together to collaborate.  We have been voted by respective parties and our people, representing our respective parties in government. 

“But today you work for the people and govern for the good of the people because for us in Imo State, we seek for the collaboration and understanding of the federal government with our peculiar situation because our state was not well run in the past eight years.

“So, we have a lot of challenges and so we need support.  We need support; we need collaboration and then buy-in into what is going on,” he said.

Ihedioha said that the support he sought from the Nigerian government was for the rehabilitation of federal roads in Imo State.

He also asked the president to support agriculture to enable Imo State to key into the Nigerian government’s programmes and projects.

Blocking leakages
Governor Ihedioha said the introduction of the Treasury Single Account, TSA, in the State was one of the ways to block leakages and raise internally-generated revenues in the State.

According to him, on assumption of office as governor, he discovered that the state’s account was run in an opaque manner with several accounts but without transparency and accountability.

He said this affected the revenue base of the State, making the State depend solely on allocations from the federation account.

“So, it became necessary that we thought of ways.  I set up a financial advisory committee and the financial advisory committee recommended that in view of where we are and because of the decision to instil a regime of fiscal discipline and regime of accountability and transparency.

“Of course, to reduce the level of corruption in the State, we had to introduce a regime of TSA, which is not ideal in many places, but for us, we thought we needed to start anew,” Ihedioha said.

He further stated that, “We needed to confront the issues and begin to reposition our State that would be alive to the demands expected of us by our people. 

“When the electorate voted us in, they believed in our ability to come and transform the state and rein in a regime of transparency and accountability. That’s what we are trying to do and we have done it.”

The Governor said the introduction of TSA in the State has restored confidence of the people in the administration.

He said that the TSA would eliminate multiple-taxation and restore ease-of-doing business environment in the State.

“If you check in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business ranking, Imo finished 34 out of 37 and in several ways, we have been lagging behind. 

“We have fallen back, deteriorating from where we used to be.  Ours used to be a very civilized State. So we have a duty and conviction that we need to take it to that level. 

“So, we have taken steps and enjoined the MDAs to work with everyone; work with the authorities to ensure that we can have a more accountable system of running the State,” he explained.

Ihedioha said that his administration has also worked to strengthen the Bureau of Public Procurement, BPP, in the State.

‘Not focusing on predecessor’
Governor Ihedioha said his administration was not focusing on the past eight years of his predecessor, explaining that he has resisted pressure from people to investigate some of the actions of the former governor.

“I’m not talking about the past regime; that’s not my focus.  The issue is that I’ve been bending over backwards. 

“I tell you for instance, there is opacity in land administration in the State, which I’m sure you must have heard. 

“So, stakeholders of the State, who own those lands that have been taken away from them, have been on government, putting a lot of pressure on government to investigate.  And I’m saying take it easy.  That’s not what I’m here for. 

“We want to redesign the State. We want to regain confidence back in Imo. We are restoring autonomy of local government administration in the State. Today, Local Government funds go to Local Government Areas. 

“We collaborate with them to ensure that there is accountability, sense of responsibility in what we are doing. 

“So we are not focusing on what the man had done.  We are focusing on what we are doing.  For once, you give it to us,” he said.

Governor Ihedioha said he received encouraging response from President Buhari during the meeting, which would enhance “symbiotic relationship” between Imo State and the Nigerian government.

 

Sammie Idika