Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo state Thursday sought President Muhammadu Buhari’s intervention on the refund of over N32 billion his predecessors spent on federal roads in the state.
Fielding questions from State House correspondents after a meeting with the president, the governor said the intervention was necessary because Imo state is “financially distressed.
He said the funds if released would assist in clearing salaries of workers and arrears of pension in the state.
“I came to discuss with President on some critical areas. Imo State as you know is not solvent. Imo State is financially distressed, the roads are so bad, security situation is rough, education is backward and there are a lot of things to do and we don’t have the money.
“I have come to request the kind intervention of Mr. President to at least refund some monies spent on some of the Federal roads in Imo State before my arrival so that we can address some pressing issues like pension arrears, salary areas so that we can get back the people, recover the people first before we begin to talk of infrastructure.”
Asked how much he was looking at he said: “The Consultants are still working but so far we have computed the monies in the neighborhood of N32 billion and my first application to Mr. President, I articulated those ones that will have prior approval before construction and a total sum of N12 billion has been recorded and I have submitted the request and in his magnanimity, he has assured me that he will look into it very considerably,” he said.
Asked what difference the money would make in the state, the governor said: “Well a journey of one thousand miles will start with one step. Wherever it can take us to, it will be a lift even if for palliative purposes.
“Whatever we will be able to achieve with whatever intervention given to us by Mr. President. It does not necessarily mean that all those monies owed to us will be given to us.
“There are so many other ways of Federal Government intervening in critical situations like we find ourselves in Imo State.”
Asked to react to latest rating of Imo by the National Bureau of Statistics as the least corrupt in Nigeria, the governor said: “Well, that is a very good commendation from them but if
I begin to look into what led into the situation we have in Imo now, I will be spending economic times and it will amount to waste. But however, whatever may be the case, we will be prudent in the way we manage whatever will be given to us in terms of intervention.”
On plans he has to boost the state’s revenue, the governor said: “It is good to be a creative thinker as a leader. I will look into how to make my IGR worthwhile. We will look for what are the peculiarities on ground and do those things so that we will not be over tasking the citizens for the purposes of raising money.
“We will do what will be a win win situation between the government and the people of Imo State in such a manner that those who are paying the money will not suffer from harsh environment, they will be willing to support the government and government also will not be losing monies.
For instance, if you have these petty traders, people whose incomes are between zero to one hundred thousand nara a month, running after them to pay tax, for me it does not make any strong sense. We should look at our tax regimes and policies and see how we can get a review to some of them.”