Stanley Uzoaru, Owerri
President Muhammadu Buhari has said state governors can function well without any assistance from the Federal Government.
The president said this in Owerri, capital of Imo State, yesterday, when he commissioned some projects built by Governor Rochas Okorocha.
Represented by the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, Buhari said governors need to think out of the box, in order to develop their respective states.
He said: “The federal government and, indeed, the All Progressives Congress (APC) family are proud of you (Okorocha). By what you have achieved, it is possible for governors to develop their respective states, without looking for assistance from the federal government.
“The federal government has been generous to state governors. We have assisted states and we will continue to do so.”
Some of the projects commissioned were the Sam Mbakwe Airport, new police headquarters and Mother and Child Hospital, all in Owerri, the state capital.
The president eulogised Okorocha on his achievements and said the facilities at the Sam Mbakwe International Cargo Airport are world class. He said the country ought to be proud of the facilities and added that the cargo airport will open not only Imo to international commerce but would, also, provide local opportunities to so many people.
“Our focus has always been on job creation and I want to thank governor Okorocha for consistently supporting the federal government in its job creation programme.
“The international cargo airport will certainly create more job opportunities, apart from the commerce it brings to the South East, but, to also, all parts of the country. What we are seeing here is a landmark achievement.”
In response, Okorocha said: “Let me start by thanking Mr. President for giving approval for Imo State Government to build this federal establishment. The idea of this project came to us as a welcome development, considering the fact that Igbo, especially Imo people, their entire life rotates around commerce and commercial activities.
“Most of the people that make up Lagos, as it concerns importation, are Igbo.
So, we decided to bring it back home, for them, by building this International Cargo Airport.
“Again, it is important I inform you that this airport was built by the sweat of Imo people.
“There was never a time that the federal government built it for them.
“We are adding another dimension to it by making it an International Cargo Airport… Imo state is now linked to the rest of the world.
“You may not need to go to Abuja, Lagos, China, or London or anywhere in the world to clear goods. This will equally create job opportunities for our people, who have been longing for things like this. Very importantly, Mr. President, it is important to note that this project was funded 100 percent by Imo state government.
“In other words, we are asking for refund as soon as possible.”
Going further, Okorocha said it was unfortunate that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) froze the accounts of the state; for over three months.
The governor said the action of the anti-graft agency had stifled the activities of the state government.
“These are part of the numerous projects we have done, yet, the EFCC has frozen Imo accounts for three months now, plus withholding of my Certificate of Return,” Okorocha noted.