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Uzodinma, Lawan And The Big Lie

By Collins Opurozor

Senator Ahmed Lawan is, first, the President of Nigeria’s Senate and, second, the man through whom Chief Hope Uzodinma has lately sought to twist the tales of misery in Imo State and beguile Nigerians as well. It is in the character of unpopular rulers to always seek validation. Since their (mis)deeds cannot connect them to the people, and since the mandate they hold is effectively dubious, they only have falsehoods to fall back on. The poor in governance are always rich in propaganda!

Lawan and Uzodinma

This is the reason the courts of tyrants are never in short supply of both grim propagandists and grinning sycophants. But when the Number Three Citizen of Nigeria, even in the face of almost intractable national crises, reduces himself to the propagandist-in-chief of a state governor, Nigerians are certainly in for one almighty catastrophe.

Yesterday, Lawan was in Owerri yet again. In two weeks, the Yobe-born lawmaker has visited Imo State twice. In each occasion, his motive went undisguised: to deploy the authority of his office as Senate President and intervene, although fruitlessly, in Uzodinma’s insoluble legitimacy crisis.

Hear him: “Gov Hope Uzodimma’s projects are people’s projects and resources are utilized with prudence. He receives less than previous governments but doing much more.” Lawan reportedly made the remarks while the Akachi Road, which Uzodinma renamed as Evan Enwerem Road, was being commissioned.

It is therefore necessary to reflect aloud on the history of the Akachi Road, the humongous allocations Imo has received under Uzodinma, the abyss of debt slavery into which Imo has been plunged, and the glaring underperformance of the government in spite of the allocations received and debts incurred.

In all fairness to the Okorocha Administration, they did construct the Akachi Road, even though it failed and got deplorable before the tenure of the Administration elapsed. When Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha came into office, in keeping with his commitment to rebuilding every sector of the State, he awarded the contract for a peerless construction of Akachi Road, and it was completed by almost fifty percent before the judicial mishap that brought in Uzodinma. If there was any possible contribution Uzodinma made to the Road it was that he eventually delivered a poor finishing, evident in the bumpy asphalting, caused ostensibly by his determination to profit by the contract and shortchange both the contractors and Imo people. Lawan should have been duly briefed and guided so as to spare him the ridicule which his latest visit to Imo has brought up him and the institution he represents.

Again, the Uzodinma Administration has witnessed an increase in FAAC allocations which can best be likened to windfalls, yet there is almost nothing to show for it. To understand the height of ruinous misrule that has enveloped Imo State, it is important to make the following comparisons. In November 2019, the Ihedioha Administration got N4.4 billion. This figure includes Imo’s share of 13% Derivation, which then stood at N476.3 million and VAT of about N1.3 billion. In the subsequent month, December 2019, the Administration received N4.6 billion, inclusive also of Derivation which was about N888 million.

However, the December 2019 allocation, which the Uzodinma Administration received in January 2020, stood at N4.9 billion. This is with the exception of the FAAC accruals to the Local Government Areas of Imo State that came to a little above N4.2 billion. So, the Uzodinma Administration received upon inception over N9 billion. Further, given that the Ihedioha Administration had won investor confidence, rejigged the economic base of the State and plugged revenue loopholes, the internally generated revenues of the State had begun to soar steadily, and before the exit of the Administration Imo was almost hitting a record N2 billion in IGR. Uzodinma also inherited this no mean feat.

By August 2020, FAAC allocations to the State had risen to a whopping N5.3 billion, and remained a bit stable in September at N5.2 billion. In October, it was N5 billion, and by the end of 2020, Uzodinma had received a total of N55.7 billion, and another N48.2 billion for the Local Government Areas, and collected yet another N22.1 from IGR.

These gargantuan amounts notwithstanding, Uzodinma went ahead to surreptitiously obtain loans which have now come to a total of about N25 billion. The big questions now are: What can one find in Imo State today which shows that the incumbent government has spent over N151 billion within just a space of twelve months? Why would the Senate President of Nigeria who heads the organ of government vested with the powers of appropriation either feign ignorance of what Imo earns from the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee or choose to deliberately mislead Nigerians about the financial state of Imo?

Where lies the prudence of a governor who jets out to Abuja every week or every other week and wastes untold millions as estacode? Where lies the prudence of a governor who spends hundreds of millions to host “dignitaries” weekly while his state is designated as the unemployment capital of Nigeria by an authoritative institution as the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics? Has Imo scaled through any accountability and transparency test in public governance under the watch of Uzodinma?

Are the Lawans of this world unaware that after Uzodinma’s sixteenth month in office, there is literally still no project in the oil-producing areas of the State to justify the billions accruing to the State as her share of Derivation? Is there any Local Government Area in Imo State that has graded a single feeder road despite the fact that the State has received almost N60 billion in the last sixteen months as allocations to the LGAs?

The reality in Imo has become a huge nightmare. Hardly does a week pass by without unpaid workers and pensioners staging protests in Owerri. Every sector in Imo is sorely comatose, even as the Administration is obsessed with brick and mortar contraptions at roundabouts which make life unbearable for the people, and designed only to create slush funds and fritter away common wealth. Lawan, “biko la wa” with your lies.

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