Shocking: Imo PDP uncovers N68 billion fraud under Uzodinma
By Charles Eweta
A war of words has broken out in Imo state between the government of Senator Hope Uzodinma and the opposition People’s Democratic Party, PDP, over the whereabouts of a whopping N68 billion which the opposition party insists has accrued to the twenty-seven local government areas in the state in the last seventeen months. According to the party, the government of Uzodinma has not done anything in the local areas to justify that such staggering amount was spent for common good.
In a piece authored by the Director-General of Imo State PDP New Media, Collins Opurozor, the party contended that, “For the last eighteen months that Uzodinma has run, or has pretended to run, the affairs of Imo state, records from the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) show that the local governments in the state ought to have all received their full allocations seventeen times. For clarity, the monthly allocations that accrue to Imo state from FAAC, which include her share of the VAT and 13% Derivation, are totally different from what the local governments in the state also receive. For instance, while Imo state got a total sum of N4.2 billion from FAAC in February 2020, the 27 LGAs in the state supposedly received another N3.89 billion. By September 2020, the figure for the LGAs had risen to N4.08 billion, and by the last allocation, which was in May 2021, the LGAs in Imo were supposed to have received a total of slightly below N68 billion under the watch of Uzodinma. This figure excludes 10% of the state’s IGR which in line with the provision of the law should also be disbursed to the LGAs through the Joint Accounts Allocation Committee (JAAC).”
Continuing, the party said, “The big questions are: where have these humongous sums gone to? What projects can be found in the local governments to justify these huge allocations? Does a governor have the right to tamper with local government funds? When last did a JAAC meeting hold in Imo state? When you go to Obowo, for instance, which should receive an average of N130 million monthly, what can you find there to justify that over N2.2 billion has come to that locality in the last seventeen months? What can Isiala Mbano show for the N146 million monthly allocations which it should receive? What has been done differently in Mbaitoli to prove that every month N178 million goes there and that in the last seventeen months over N3 billion has been utilized in making life better in that area? These are questions that Uzodinma should urgently answer.
“It is instructive to note in the recent past when Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha was in office, all the local governments in Imo state had unfettered financial autonomy. To ensure that project funding guidelines were strictly adhered to, there was an LGA Project Monitoring Bureau. It was for that reason that the local governments under Gov Ihedioha within six months built twenty-seven ultramodern secretariats and provided the fulcrum for the incubation and development of sports through the construction of twenty-seven recreation centers across the state. The implication was that local talents in sports would be harnessed, and the energies of the young people channeled away from crime, since the opportunities in sports had been opened up to them. This was an effective soft security initiative. We also saw the local governments purchase earthmoving and construction equipment. Governance was returned to the people.
“The reality in Imo now is that even the local government workers are not paid their salaries. A recent memo by the Accountant General of Imo state to the Chairmen of the Interim Management Committees of the LGAs was requesting them to come forward with the lists of unpaid local government workers in the past one year. This is an aberration. Workers owed for a year? State Accountant General requesting to pay workers in another tier of government? This simply implies that allocations to the LGAs, which they can use to meet their first-line obligation of payment of salaries, never actually get to them.”
Opurozor further urged Imo people to rise up and begin to ask the government of Uzodinma some relevant questions about the whereabouts of the local government funds. For him, “Life in Imo has become a misery, and most rural areas have been totally cut off from their neighbours because of lack of access roads. The restiveness being witnessed today is in part the fallout of a system recently created in Imo which has shut the youths completely out of democratic dividends and has made despondency, even despair, to reign supreme.”