From George Onyejiuwa, Owerri
Imo Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)has released what it called the abysmal three year records of Governor Hope Uzodimma.
The party said that in the past three years of this regime that the state has witnessed unprecedented killings and yet to abate , economic stagnation and mass penury, insecurity, infrastructural decay, poor healthcare, collapse of education, dearth of agricultural productivity, conscription of the political space ,as violation of human rights have become the order of the day in Imo.
The Imo PDP also alleged that there is surreptitious plan by the state to a 345 Billion for vote buying and rigging ahead of the presidential/ National Assembly and that of Houses of Assembly scheduled for February 25 and March 19 respectively. Noting that Imo is presently the most indebted Igbo state, with a debt profile which stands at N220 billion. That the regime of Senator Uzodinma has doubled the debt profile in less than three years. “What has the regime done with over N100 billion it has borrowed so?
Addressing a world press conference on Friday at the Party’ s State Secretariat , Mr . Collins Oporuzor ,State Publicity Secretary, said the state has yet to witness progress , peace ,economic development since that Judicial travesty of the Apex Court of 14 January 2022 which sacked Emeka Ihedioha as the duly elected governor of the state.
The press statement which reads :” Gentlemen of the Press, it is the tradition of our great Party to be upfront with you about developments in Imo State. This stems from our abiding commitment to deepening democracy in Imo and ensuring that those who control the reins of state power do so in the most accountable manner.
Today’s briefing, therefore, offers us the context to assess how the yearnings of Imo people for dividends of democracy have been met in the past three years.
Gentlemen of the Press, recall that a controversial judgment of the Supreme Court had on January 14, 2020 created the regime of Senator Hope Uzodinma in Imo State. You all were witnesses to it. Before then, Imo was already moving smoothly on the path of development under the PDP Government of the Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha.
Imo people, and indeed Nigerians, were unanimous in their rejection of that judicial travesty. Across Nigeria, patriots came out in their hundreds of thousands to strongly condemn that abominable truncation of the people’s mandate and to stand up for the principle that a people’s right to choose their own leader is sacred and inalienable.
Continuing Opuruzor said “Today, the greatest casualties of that infamy are Imo people, whose franchise was stripped away, and democracy itself, which seed of destruction in Imo State was sown. To be sure, the imposed, unelected and unpopular regime of Senator Hope Uzodinma has further worked so hard in the past three years to ensure that all the institutions of democracy in Imo are dismantled and full-blown dictatorship firmly established.
“For instance, the local government system, which is a mechanism put in place to expand and sustain the democratic space and spread democratic values, has been destroyed in Imo State. This is a huge tragedy! Imo is a state that has over seventy percent of her entire population living in the rural areas. Yet, the only channel through which governance can be delivered to the people has been completely run aground.
In last thirty-six months, the regime of Senator Uzodinma has received from the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) a total of N180.6 billion meant for the Local Governments in the State. Today, there is nothing on ground that shows that even a Kobo has gotten to the LGAs.
Senator Hope Uzodinma must, without any further delay, tell Imo people where he kept the N180.6 billion belonging to the Local Governments.
What is now even more outrageous is that, this wobbling regime in Imo, in a show of ultra-despotism, coerced the malleable APC members of the Imo State House of Assembly to endorse the stripping off of autonomy of the local government system, the judiciary and the legislature. This is the most audacious attempt by Senator Uzodinma to make himself an emperor, enslave Imo people and create a society where his personal whims and caprices shall be law and where his powers are unchecked. This cannot be allowed to happen in Imo State!
He added , “Imo PDP, therefore, condemns in the strongest terms the decision by the APC-led Imo State House of Assembly to destroy the judiciary, local government system and the legislature in Nigeria. The strong resistance put up by our members in the Assembly to this very obnoxious stance is exhilarating, and our Party immensely appreciates them for that.
Furthermore, the reign of Uzodinma, which has made incessant borrowings a state policy, has now plunged Imo into irredeemable debt slavery. To be clear, debt instruments are supposed to be development tools which governments deploy for raising the financial and socio-economic wellbeing of their entities. The implication is that loans are invariably obtained so as to invest in those programs, initiatives and projects which have the prospect of turning around the economic circumstances of the borrowing entities and affording them the capacity not just to repay in future but also to create sustainable growth.
Fact to be noted is that Imo is presently the most indebted Igbo state, with a debt profile which stands at N220 billion. That means that the regime of Senator Uzodinma has doubled the debt profile in less than three years. And the fundamental question is: “What has the regime done with over N100 billion it has borrowed so far”?
The party said that noted that while the regime has borrowed over 100 Billion that none of that funds has been channelled in re- jigging of the agro- industrial sector of the state
“It is curious that in all of the landmark borrowings by Senator Uzodinma, no effort has been made to redraw the industrial landscape of the State by re-jigging investments in the hugely vital agro-industrial sector where Imo has major comparative advantage. Adapalm has remained moribund, Imo Rubber Estates and Avutu Poultry Farm have remained comatose.
Equally, Nsu Tiles Company, Umuna Bricks Factory, Egbema Power Plant and Inyishi Aluminium Extrusion Plant are some key investments with the capacity to rev-up the local economy and employ a vast majority of the teeming unemployed Imo youths. Yet, they have been left to rot away, even when Imo under this anti-people regime of Senator Uzodinma has been officially designated by the NBS as the unemployment capital of Nigeria.
What Senator Uzodinma really needs to explain to Imo people is how he diverted a whopping sum of N56 billion on the pretense of constructing the 36-kilometer Owerri-Orlu road. Does the administration in Imo want the people to believe that a kilometer of road was done at the rate of N1.5 billion? This same Craneburg Construction Company, which works for Uzodinma, has also done the Lekki-Epe Road in Lagos State and the Ibadan Circular Road in Oyo State. In the both instances, even drainages and terrains rougher than Imo, the cost never exceeded N450 million per kilometer. But in Uzodinma’s Imo, the cost of a single kilometer of road by the same company suddenly became N1.5 billion. This is mind-boggling, just as it brings home the level of financial haemorrhage going on in Imo State!
Even the 2023 budget cobbled together by Senator Uzodinma seems to have been contrived to consolidate his cruelty against Imo people, mortgage the future of many generations yet unborn and take his unbridled treasury looting to the next level. That particular document clearly contains nothing but the the innermost intentions of the failed regime to commit the type of financial malfeasance that has never been known in the history of Imo State.
For instance, the entire receipts from FAAC to the State for the year would be in the region of N70 billion. 13% Derivation Fund would be N9.6 billion. IGR would be N13 billion. And other interventions and grants, including UBEC, would be N28 billion. That brings the total income of the State for the year to about N120.6 billion.
Yet, Senator Uzodinma is already planning to spend the sum of N475 billion within the year. The deficit of N354 billion would be raised through borrowings. It must be noted that there is no single plan on ground to execute any project that would meet the basic needs of Imo people. Rather, the loans would be solely dedicated to expanding Senator Uzodinma’s political war chest and financing sundry other electoral malpractices, including massive vote buying.
Already, agents of Imo APC have started distributing forms, requesting for bank accounts and PVC details of Imo voters so as to commence the first phase of this brazen electoral fraud. INEC, NFIU, security and anti-graft agencies must quickly intervene in this matter, halt this “Operation Wire-Wire” institutionalized vote buying in Imo State and prosecute all those involved.
Today in Imo State, the regime of Senator Uzodinma has completely resigned from its responsibility of protecting the lives and property of Imo people. Agents and militiamen of the government have been accused of masterminding some of the killings in the State. The gruesome massacre of fourteen Otulu youths at Awo-Omamma by Uzodinma-backed Ebubeagu Militia remains a case in point.
More than half of Imo territory is presently under the occupation of bandits, terrorists, kidnappers and other non-state actors who levy death upon Imo people and make life a misery. Farmers have abandoned their farmlands and the logical outcome has been unprecedented rise in poverty and starvation, including crime. Three years ago, Imo was the most peaceful state in Nigeria. Our State is now a killing field!
It is shameful that while Imo people are slaughtered daily by terrorists, the only thing Senator Uzodinma thinks of is how to politicize the festering insecurity. He unrepentantly seeks to frame and destroy his perceived political foes with it. This Governor is a big threat to society and he is evidently unfit to continue in office!
As the 2023 elections draw closer, the failed regime of Senator Uzodinma is already perfecting a wicked plot to deploy violence in order to manipulate electoral outcomes and extend its illegitimate hold onto power. Our Party has intercepted credible intelligence about the planned role which the Uzodinma-backed Ebubeagu Militia would play in this process of derailing democracy in the State. On Election Day, what may be witnessed is a scenario where accreditations would be allowed to take place with BVAS, and from that point Ebubeagu Militia would take over the process to complete the actual voting and transmission. The massively-rigged February 2022 State Constituency By-election in Ngor Okpala provided the ground for the APC regime in Imo to test this crime against democracy.
Imo PDP therefore demands the immediate disbandment of Ebubeagu Militia. The Inspector General of Police must rise to the occasion. Since Ebubeagu began its operations in Imo State, insecurity, killings, abductions and arson have only risen astronomically. There is no justification for the Militia to continue to exist!
Imo people should realize that if this regime in the State is allowed to set everywhere on fire and make all the parts of Imo uninhabitable, we all would become refugees in foreign lands. Therefore, everyone in the State must now come out, join hands and participate in the electoral process, with the clear and patriotic objective of permanently sending this unelected regime packing. This is what we owe ourselves for the sake of our collective survival. This is what we owe our generations yet unborn. The man dies in all who keep silent in the face of tyranny.”