George Onyejiuwa, Owerri
Imo State Governor, Emeka Ihedioha, has revealed that the state is saddled with unsustainable debt of over N100 billion incurred without anything to show for what the monies were used for.
He also disclosed that they had underestimated the rot in the state, the deep hole of corruption and mindless misappropriation perpetuated by the immediate past administration of Rochas Okoroch, saying contracts were awarded orally without documentations.
Ihedioha stated this, yesterday, during a first meeting of the enlarged Imo State Stakeholders at the Ahajioku Centre.
“We consider it of utmost importance to lay before you the facts we have met on ground and the enormous efforts required to address them. When we were campaigning, we honestly underestimated deep hole of rot, corruption and misappropriation perpetuated by the last administration.
“Contracts were most times awarded orally and without documentation, no paper trail and without input of relevant government ministries, departments and agencies.
“Unsustainable debts were incurred on behalf of the state running to over N100 billion, without anything to show for it and consequently, saddling the state with a myriad of lawsuits and garnishee orders.
“I must inform you in this regard that so far, we have received over N30 billion worth of garnishee orders arising from several ill-conceived and fraudulent contractual agreements deliberately consummated by the past administration to destroy the future of the state and its teeming population by fettering the state in a humongous debt trap.
“The interim findings of the financial advisory committee set up to ascertain the state of the finances of Imo State several mind boggling, incontrovertible but unsettling facts have emerged.”
However, the state governor said he did not convened the stakeholders meeting to bemoan the state of devastation, but to inform the people what steps were being taken to return the state on the part of progress.
Ihedioha disclosed that in spite of the serious resource constraints the young administration was facing, it has adopted innovative approaches to reflate and grow the economy.
“We are maximising accessing of support from development partners particularly to fund health, water, sanitation and education, accessing resources from intervention funds of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Bank of Industry and Development Bank of Nigeria, to stimulate small and medium scale enterprises and create employment.
“We’re attracting private sector investment, both local and foreign, to stimulate economic growth, employment and poverty reduction while expanding the internally generated revenue base through taxes and fees. All these initiatives will help to relax the fiscal pressure and release prosperity.
“Suffice it to say that in the last eight years, Imo has not leveraged on multi-lateral development assistance on account of our inability to comply with certain basic requirements, such as payment of counterpart funding and lack of transparency in the state’s administrative process .
“But today, due to the positive perception of our government, international development partners have shown renewed interest in the state.”