As the government of Senator Hope Uzodinma of Imo State has reached it’s hundred days in office, In this Interview with some selected Journalists, the Imo State Commissioner for Special Projects, Simon Ebegbulem, he spoke on the different achievements of Uzodinma within 100 days in office, some of which he said produced people-oriented laws in Imo to enhance security and economic development. Reviving Imo Adapalm plantation, continuity in governance regarding road construction, welfare package for civil servants in the state among others.
However, he mentioned that some discoveries were also made based on fleecing of the state and local government funds, linking the Emeka Ihedioha’s administration, that has to with the issue of payment of salaries, the alleged misappropriation of N19.63 billion local government funds among others.
Following the criticisms by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, that the governor, Hope Uzodinma, does not have anything to show in his 100 days in office, What will you be telling Imo people that Governor Uzodinma, has achieved in 100 days of his administration.
For the 100 days, we are presenting alot to the people of Imo state, some of them you may not see but in the next couple months Imo people will appreciate what we have been able to do.
You know this government does not believe in making so much noise even though the PDP has choosen to do that to malign and blackmail this administration. After the failed, sacked and fraudulent leadeship of Emeka Ihedioha.
From what Imo people have seen recently, he is not who claimed he is. It is obvious that that administration was a fraud and that is what Uzodinma is correcting.
On the 100 days journey of your administration?
Talking of hundred days in office, Senator Hope Uzodinma, is a man coming with a lot of knowledge to better the lives of Imo people. He prepared for this job. He is not a greedy man and he is not a man that engages on primitive acquisition of wealth like Ihedioha and co.
First of all when he took over the mantle of leadership of Imo state, as governor, as an astute lawmaker, he believes that a suitable society is governed by law, and by making good laws you can economically revive the state and guarantee the security of lives and properties. Especially when he met an empty purse, high level of indiscipline and lawlessness in the state.
He signed into law the criminal justice administration bill. This among other things will aid justice for Imo people as well as guarantee the security of the citizens.
He also signed into law the amendment of the Imo state revenue administration law 2020.
This law is geared towards generating revenue, boost the internally generated revenue of the state as this will help to revamp the economy of the state.
This is just to mention but a few of the laws the governor has assented to that will form the success story of his administration.
So what of the civil service?
He has strengthened the civil service, making them proficient. In doing so the permanent secretaries of the various ministries that have been abandoned he bought vehicles for them for their official duties, the governor did this because he wants them to be more productive and proficient in their duties. Sadly, these people have no official vehicles when he came in and the governor was not happy about that. Consequently, he decided to change the narratives.
Salaries and pensions are being paid and our Imo workers are happy for it and our fathers and mothers have been jubilating because the governor has shown commitment to meet their needs and he has vowed not to neglect the senior citizens. You remember the pensioners had a meeting with the governor, and they expressed their gratitude to him for paying attention to their needs.
Again what the government is doing now that is very important is the cleaning of the rot we discovered both in the state and local governments where they padded names of workers.
This has been happening over the years. We believed politicians connived with some bad eggs in the civil service to perpetrate this evil. You see a situation where billions of naira are criminally going into the pocket of individuals.
Can you take us deep into some of the discoveries?
Because the governor wants to pay salaries as at when due and equally provide the dividends of democracy that he promised Imo people, the governor decided to look into the books, and now found out several shady deals in the payment of workers in the state. You have a situation whereby one person was earning salaries in different banks with one name. The same thing applies at the local government areas where one person will be receiving salaries from two or three local government Areas.
We found out that the wage bill of local government areas have increased astronomically when there was ban on employment by the previous administrations and people are retiring, still, the wage bill is going up. This is because people are padding names and the previous administrations were paying lip service to them. Of course, these criminalities would not have succeeded without the connivance of some top government officials.
Obviously, they were part of the deal. For instance, in Ihitte/Uboma, a rural local government you see a situation the salary wage bill of Ihitte/Uboma, is N58 million while that of Owerri municipal in the state capital is less than N25 million monthly. They ran a cartel. They succeeded in perpetrating these padding by going to rural local government areas so they know they will not be detected. They believe that they may not be caught. Now, they have been finding it very difficult because we have a governor, who has zero-tolerance for corruption.
Do you think that the previous administration is aware of this alleged frauds?
We heard that the previous administration was aware but lack the political will to clean up this fraud from the system. This kind of fraud cannot continue and you say you want to develop the state.
It is difficult for the state to achieve the desired development with this monumental fraud in the civil service and in the management of the local governments. And I can tell you Governor Uzodinma is equal to the tax because he is in a hurry to work for Ndi Imo.
What did Governor Hope Uzodinma do when he discovered this fraud?
Of course, he was shocked that these things were happening under any Chief Executive without check. However, the governor set up a committee and they are now going round to ascertain the authentic list of the number of workers at the state and local government areas.
But as you know, the PDP are always blackmailing and telling lies against this administration, they will not fail to fight back with their corrupt allies in the civil service. But this administration is determined to do the right thing for the people of the state.
So far with the ongoing clean up in the civil service system, how much has the government saved?
With what has been discovered to far, at the state level the state government will be saving about N750 million monthly. By the time it is concluded you can imagine what will be saved.
These monies will be channelled towards the development of the state, pensions will be paid and workers receive their salaries and also this will improve the welfare of Imo state workers and make them number one in Nigeria.
Our governor believes that it will be difficult to get the best out of the civil service unless if the workers are happy. The governor intends to come up with other civil service reforms whereby the workers will be proud of the job that they are doing.
The governor was said to have gifted cars to permanent secretaries of state ministries, what for?
Remember, when the governor came in he bought vehicles for permanent secretaries of the various state ministries. You find a situation whereby these people were abandoned for long. The previous administrations never cared about them and their welfare, Ihedioha’s administration was more interested in thinking about themselves and purchasing expensive cars and forgetting the civil servants. It affected our state negatively but is being corrected today.
The governor wants the permanent secretaries to be more productive and focussed so as to assist genuinely in moving the state forward. The workers have complained bitterly that they have been working under a very bad atmosphere. The buildings are dilapidated and there are even no furniture. The roofs have been licking and rains have damaged some of their documents. Now this government has started a complete renovation of the building. The bottom line is to make sure that they are very comfortable. The governor wants to do that at all levels.
What do you make of the reviving of Imo Ada-palm by your government?
You know that Adapalm is one of the biggest assets of Imo state, that has been there and abandoned. It is unfortunate that previous administrations have failed to exploit the potentials of Adapalm. I want you to know that governor Hope Uzodinma, has come with a different style in governance. We are looking at reviving the moribund industries, one of which is the Adapalm which you can see work is going on there daily.
We want these industries when resuscitated, can help to create employment for the youths of Imo state. Governor Uzodinma will surpass the records of late Sam Mbakwe and he started very well just in hundred days.
In the area of investors, what is the government doing?
Investors are coming, is just this COVID-19 that is actually slowing down a lot of things. A lot of investors are scrambling and willing to come and invest in Imo State since the emergence of Senator Uzodinma as governor of Imo State.
They are coming to invest in agriculture, electricity, ceramics, even in the area of shoemaking. The whole idea is to make Owerri an economic hub of the South East region. We want to change this old narrative that Owerri is a civil service state. Governor Uzodinma intends to tap all the potentials in the state and turn them into wealth.
This will boost the economy of the state, whereby poverty will be drastically reduced. The government wants to ensure that people are empowered. Everybody both young and old will be busy.
How will you describe the continuity in governance policy of Uzodinma, does it mean it does not have any project to introduce as according to the opposition party, PDP.
This government has said that it does not want to play with the lives of Imo people unlike the Ihedioha and his PDP will always do. We are focused on what we want to achieve and will not succumb to the blackmail and lies of the frustrated former SSG, under Ihedioha, who has been crying more than the bereaved and making spurious allegations against the person of Governor Uzodinma.
When this government came in, our governor did say that any good initiative of the Ihedioha administration, he will continue. Uzodinmna does not want to play politics of discrimination because he is too experienced. He wants to satisfy Imo people who voted him into power overwhelmingly before Ihedioha stole his mandate that was later recovered through the Supreme Court. And not to satisfy a cabal.
However, Ihedioha has continued to use a section of the media to perpetrate lies against this government. But he is worried because we have discovered that he perpetrated a lot of fraud in his seven months in office as Governor when he tried to portray himself as a saint to deceive Imo people.
The road Projects he started, governor Uzodinma urged the contractors to continue the job but we found that most of them bolted away with taxpayers money on the advice of the former administration and abandoned the projects. But we will get them to account for the tax player’s money. Ihedioha we know would not have continued with the projects of the past administration. But Senator Uzodinma did it because he is too matured for their kind of politics. Ihedioha has been painting himself a saint but from what we have seen so far, Ihedioha is the worst governor, that Imo people have ever produced. Though we found he was never produced by Imo people, rather he criminally pushed himself into government house.
On the N187 million Mercedes Benz bought by Ihedioha while in government?
You can imagine the N187 million worth of car bought by Ihedioha and the workers in Imo state are complaining and you are buying a car worth N187 million. The gadgets in that bus is equivalent of what you can find in Air Force one and yet the road leading to Ihedioha’s village is not passable. That is the same man who is telling Imo people that he loves them. He is just a pretender. It was seven months of deceit. We will expose a lot of fraud that administration perpetrated and we will soon tell the world the real Ihedioha.
For Governor Hope Uzodinma, he is focused on governance, we are not here to attack anybody but we will also not shut our mouth when they try to mislead the people. We will not fail to tell Imo people what transpired in his seven months of fraudulent administration. I say this, with what has been discovered so far, he is the worst governor Imo has produced. Look at the N19.63 billion local government funds that were misappropriated by the Ihedioha’s men. That was how they pilfered the funds of the Local Governments to the detriment of the people at the grass-root.
Then what will you want the Ihedioha’s people to learn from this present government?
They should learn to be sincere to themselves and think for Imo people and not their selfish interest. Uzodinma is sincere and a Godly governor. When the people are smiling he smiles, when they are lamenting he laments.
He wants to do everything to better the lives of the people of Imo state and the PDP and their cohorts cannot stop him with their persistent blackmail. And I can tell you that in one hundred days, Uzodinma has achieved what Ihedioha failed to achieve in seven months.
No Evidence Kwara LG Funds Were Diverted: Judicial Panel
Allegations that the Kwara State Government diverted or deducted N300m monthly from local government funds since May 2019 to date are null and void, panel of inquiry on the finance of the 16 local government areas has said.
The panel also said it found no evidence that the AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq administration has borrowed to pay salary or pension since it was inaugurated on May 29, 2019.
“We want to state categorically that there is no evidence either oral or documentary to support the allegation of N300m monthly deduction from the local government funds by the state government. The allegation of such deductions is therefore baseless, unfounded and false,” its chairman retired Justice Mathew Adewara said late Wednesday when the panel submitted its report to the Governor.
AbdulRazaq had on August 11 inaugurated the panel to investigate the allegations of diversion of local government funds or borrowings from the bank to pay salaries of local government workers.
Justice Adewara said a total of 35 witnesses testified before the panel while several documents were produced and tendered by them. He said the panel also visited some of the local governments to see what projects they have done as had earlier been submitted by the director of personnel management (DPMs) who appeared before them.
The report of the panel meanwhile has found that the state government “does not deduct money from the SUBEB account while salaries of teaching and non-teaching staff are paid as and when due from May 29 to date”.
Adewara said the panel only received a memorandum from the Elite Network for Sustainable Development (ENETSUD), adding however that the questions the civic group raised in its memo were “all based on incomplete information sourced from the internet and social media.
“Meanwhile, all the grey areas have been thoroughly thrashed out to the satisfaction of Mr Suleiman Oladimeji (of ENETSUD), having been confronted with the documents earlier submitted to the panel by the Kwara State Ministry of Finance.”
The report meanwhile confirmed that the last administration took two separate loans in the name of the local governments: N4bn and another N1.6bn.
“The past administration obtained a loan of N4bn from a commercial bank for payment of two months arrears of salaries of local government staff. It was this loan that the Local governments were repaying at monthly instalments of N317m. The loan of N4bn has been fully repaid in September 2019.
“There is another loan of N1.6bn also obtained by the past administration while the repayment of the loan is ongoing and will terminate in August 2022. It means therefore that the present administration inherited the obligation to repay the loan.”
The committee meanwhile urged the government to ensure “monthly publication of the total wage bill, IGR and expenditure at the state and Local government levels. This, we are sure, would guarantee accountability and transparency which will enrich the integrity of the government in the minds of the people; thereby preventing future reoccurrence of doubt, allegation of financial misappropriation emanating from the people against government.”
Justice Adewara commended the Governor for his boldness to direct a probe of his own administration — a development he asserted was new to the country.
“We commended Your Excellency’s courage to set up the panel to inquire into the finance of the local government from May 29 to date, which is the same as setting up a panel to investigate your administration,” he said.
The Governor, for his part, commended the panel for accepting to serve the state in such delicate capacity.
“We believe that the document you’re submitting will enrich us. I never authorised the deduction or diversion of any money and so nothing could have been so diverted,” he said.
“However, it was important to clear public doubt when allegations came that we were diverting some money. That was the essence of setting up the panel to see if there has been any anomaly as alleged. Your findings and recommendations will help us to strengthen the civil service both at state and local government levels, especially how funds are spent and managed.
“We campaigned on not interfering with local government finances and since we came in we have not done so. If anybody has done so it was without my knowledge. The local governments do not need my approval to spend any money. The main interface between the state and local governments is when the commissioner of finance and planning goes to Abuja for FAAC meetings, comes back and meets with the local governments that this is what we got for you from Abuja. That’s where it ends.
“Truly, we appreciate what you have done. We will go through your recommendations properly and implement them. Just as we set up this panel, the state house of assembly set up their own and I also invited the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to come in and investigate the issues. That is ongoing. I thank you for your time.”
The eight-member panel comprised people drawn from various walks of life, including retired Justice Adewara (chairman); Mrs Halimah Bello (DSS); Mrs Titilayo Adedeji (CSOs); Barrister Aisha Bello Mohammed (NBA); DSP Adekunle Iwalaiye (police); Mohammed Baba Ibrahim (ICAN); Alhaja Asmau Apalando (NLC); and Barrister S.K Grillo (Secretary).
Mob Attacks Fed. MOW, Fire Service Over Failure To Quench Fire In Kogi.
By Idris Ahmed, Lokoja.
Angry mob early morning on Saturday attacked the Federal Ministry of Works and the Federal Fire Service over failure to quench fire that engulfed the multi billion naira ‘P — LINK’, an electrical and electronics super store in Lokoja, Kogi state capital.
The super store located on the popular IBB road in the state capital is alleged to have gutted fire following intermittent power outages at about 10.30 pm and continued to burn till the next day , despite efforts of sympathisers and volunteers.
Irked by the absence of fire fighters from both the state and federal fire fighters, some youth constituted themselves in to a mob and launched an attack on the Federal Ministry of Works situated directly opposite the scene of the inferno.
Both the Federal Ministry of Works and Fire Service which happen to be in the same premises were vandalised and property worth millions of naira including office equipments were allegedly destroyed.
The mob was also alleged to have uprooted the pole hoisting the national flag and went ahead to shatter the window pales of the mosque in the federal ministry’s Lokoja office.
All efforts to reach the Kogi state Commissioner of works, Engineer Abubakar Ohere, or other relevant officials of state ministry of works to comment on the incident and the alleged failure to discharge their responsibility and raid on the federal Ministry of works tailed as all phone calls were not answered.
However, officials of the federal ministry of works and fire service have confirmed the attack and vandalization of their facilities by the suspected mob, whom, they alleged acted in ignorance.
The officials who spoke under conditions of anonymity, said normally the federal fire service in the state is to compliment the state fire service, but was handicapped due to breakdown of its machines.
“It is true that irate mob attacked the federal fire service in Lokoja over the fire incident that raised down the P-Link super store, but it is on record that the federal fire service has always performed its duties, until when our vehicle got damaged due to an accident in the course of duty and has been taken to Abuja for repairs. This office should not take blame for the unfortunate incident”, the official stated.
The owner of the mall, Mr Peter Ojuneme, who expressed shock over the unfortunate incident, thanked the people of Lokoja and the Kogi state as a whole for their support, sympathy and encouragement, calling on relevant agencies to investigate the cause of the inferno to avert future occurrence, not only to him, but others.
Bauchi State Govt. Debunks Online Newspaper Publication Over Sacking Of Head of Service, Says Reports Mischievous
By Yahaya Idris, Bauchi.
A Senior Special Assistant on Media to the Governor of Bauchi State, Mr. Mukhtar Gidado, had denied an online Newspaper Publication allegedly stating that Governor Bala Mohammed has “sacked” Alh Ahmed Abubakar Ma’aji, as Bauchi State Head of Civil Service.
According to the statement: “For the avoidance of doubt and in order to put the records straight, it is imperative to clarify that at no time did His Excellency, Governor Bala Mohammed sack the immediate past Head of Civil Service. Alh Ahmed Abubakar Ma’aji, rather has reached the normal retirement age on Friday 25th September, 2020 haven meritoriously served the State for 35 year”.
“The news report is therefore a misrepresentation of the press release earlier issued conveying the appointment of the Acting Head of Civil Service Dr Bala M Lukshi .
The Governor’s Media Aide call on media practitioners to always cross check their facts before going to press for proper and effective information dissemination. He stated.
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