What Has Uzodinma Utilized N20b Imo LG Allocations For?
By Ogu Bundu Nwadike, M.A
In ten days, precisely on April 25, 2020, it’ll be the mythical 100 days in office of Senator Hope Uzodinma as governor. And evidently, there’ll be nothing to show for it in the State.
There are sad reports of Uzodinma not paying salaries and pensions since taking over office in January. There are stories of Uzodinma not initiating any programme or project. Then, most painfully, there are stories of Uzodinma stopping work on the projects that were ongoing as at the day the Supreme Court made him governor.
Point is things worked in Imo State with His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Ogbuagu Emeka Ihedioha CON KSC FNIFST as the duly elected governor. Why are they suddenly not working again with Uzodinma as governor?
The usual allocations from the Federation Account for both the State and the 27 Local Governments are still getting into the bank account of Imo State. And recently, Uzodinma boasted that he has raised the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the State to near N2 billion.
Yet, the salaries, pensions, programmes and projects that Rt. Hon. Ihedioha could accomplish as governor, Uzodinma can’t accomplish. Why?
Take for instance, the allocations to the 27 Local Governments from the Federation Account. At an average of N5 billion per month for the entire 27 LGAs, Uzodinma has received the sum of about N20 billion on behalf of the 27 LGAs. That’s for December, January, February and March 2020.
Recall that for the better part of mid January to about mid April 2020, Uzodinma was the General Chairman of the 27 LGAs. He’s only just appointed a Transition Committee (TC).
Yet, despite Uzodinma receiving N20 billion LGA money, salaries and pensions of Imo LGA workers and pensioners haven’t been paid since January. Yet, work on the 27 mini-stadiums and 27 Administrative Secretariats projects in the 27 LGAs have been stopped since January. Yet, the programmes for human capital and youth development put in place by Gov. Ihedioha have been stopped.
What’s bothering Imo people now is, what’s happening to the revenue allocations of about N20 billion that Uzodinma has received on behalf of the 27 LGAs of Imo State?
There’s now the worry that Uzodinma may have been diverting the LGA money to other uses than the salaries, pensions, progammes and projects in the LGAs for which the allocations were released to the 27 LGAs in the first place.
In fact, truth be told, without sounding vulgar, there are insinuations that the near N20 billion may have developed wings and flown into private and personal bank accounts. I don’t know about that!
What I know with certainty is that had the Supreme Court not removed Ihedioha as governor, salaries, pensions, progammes and projects at the 27 LGAs would have been going on without stop.
Imo State would have had additional 27 Administrative Secretariats, which were slated to be completed and commissioned latest March 2020.
The 28-offices Administrative Secretariat at Ahiazu Mbaise LGA was completed and commissioned by Gov. Ihedioha in December 2019. Obviously, workers of the LGA who hitherto didn’t have offices must have been provided offices by now.
In the other 26 LGAs, many LGA staff will still be standing workers, since work on the office blocks have sine die been stopped by Uzodinma.
The 27 mini-stadiums would also have had their structural construction completed, awaiting the next level of fittings. The accompanying grass fields would have been laid and landscaped. Much progress would have been made on the 27 mini-stadiums project. No doubt!
The school desk and seats project, which was embarked upon by the 27 LGAs to provide thousands of seating furniture for schools across the 27 LGAs would have been accomplished and the second phase commenced.
Point is that those verifiable and accessible projects were being accomplished with the revenue allocations to the 27 LGAs from the Federation Account.
As governor of Imo State, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha ensured LGA money were judiciously utilized for the payment of salaries and pensions, payment for programmes and projects at the LGAs.
There’s no reason whatsoever why those things that the LGA money were used for under the watch of Ihedioha should be stopped under the watch of Uzodinma. Am adequately persuaded that everything good that worked with Ihedioha in Douglas House should work with Uzodinma in Douglas House, except somebody is misappropriating the 27 LGA money as being speculated and rumoured among Imo people.
It’s very worrisome that Imo State had to quickly and fastly return to the horrible and terrible era of a governor not amenable to probity, transparency and accountability, within just three months after Ihedioha was erroneously removed from office by the Supreme Court. Most appalling!
Anyhow, that’s my report on that crucial issue concerning the retardation and stagnations at the 27 LGAs. I’ll leave it at the table of Imo people, the real owners of Imo State to verify, assess and decide. With an average total revenue base of about N20 billion so far since January 2020, the 27 LGAs of Imo State should be working and not be at stand still!
By God’s grace, Imo must be rebuilt!