October 1, 2022

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Ihedioha, Imo govt disagree over state’s debt profile

The immediate past governor of Imo State, Emeka Ihedioha, and the state government are in a war of words over the debt profile of the state.

While Ihedioha had accused the state of over borrowing to the tune of N205.19bn, the government said Ihedioha was on a futile mission.

A statement issued by Ihedioha’s spokesperson, Chibuike Onyeukwu, disclosed that Ihedioha spoke as a special guest of honour at the Mbaise United States of America 13th annual convention.

But the state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Declan Emelumba, said the former governor was quoting fake figures.

He challenged Ihedioha to tender a proof that the state government had borrowed up to the amount he claimed.

Emelumba said, “Ihedioha is not current. The figure he claimed is very fictitious. Government is not averse to borrowing but what is important is proper usage. But I can assure you that we are properly using the funds to the benefits of the people of Imo State.”

Onyeukwu’s statement read, “The former Governor of Imo State, His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha CON, has condemned the increasing level of indebtedness resulting from unbridled borrowing by the Hope Uzodimma-led administration in Imo State.

“Speaking as the Special Guest of Honour at the Mbaise USA 13th Annual Convention at Santa Clara, California, in the United States of America, he said statistics released in April this year by the Debt Management Office, DMO, shows that the debt profile of Imo State has jumped to N205.19 billion, which means it has more than doubled from the level he brought down the huge debt profile he inherited from the previous administration.

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“The high indebtedness of Imo State, incurred in the last two and a half years is cause for worry. This is because, while other states like Lagos, Ogun, Rivers and Akwa Ibom with the same level of debt profile have robust economic activities, including significant internally generated revenue to meet their loan obligations, Imo State is left with practically nothing to fall back on to support its loan exposure. What this means is that the debt burden, without economic activities to generate revenue, will continue to weigh the state down.

“Hon. Ihedioha described the high indebtedness as man’s inhumanity to man and a mortgaging of the future of the state.

“The former governor, who used the opportunity to thank the people of Imo State, especially of Mbaise extraction, also gave an account of his seven months stint as the governor of the state.

“He said rebuilding Imo State was at the heart of his growth and development initiatives. Of priority, he noted, was the development of the Human Capital Index, the economy and infrastructure, with special interest in the rural areas.

“Hon. Ihedioha, who set up Technical Committees to harness potentials in the state, stated that he took steps towards enhancing the internally generated revenue (IGR), thereby raising monthly revenue to over N1 billion (One billion naira) by blocking areas of leakage through the introduction of Treasury Single Account, TSA, while reducing the dubious debt profile of the state.

“During his seven-month old administration, Chief Ihedioha says, short, medium to long-term contracts were awarded to redress the sorry state of road infrastructure in the state.

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“To support rapid rural development, the former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives stated that he ordered Caterpillars, Graders and Pail loaders for each of the 27 Local Government Councils.

“Above all, he said, was the restoration of the people’s confidence through probity and accountability, full and regular payment of monthly salaries and pension arrears without stressing the aged beneficiaries for verifications in Owerri.

“While speaking to over 2,000 delegates from across the US, Europe and Nigeria at the 13th Mbaise USA Convention in California, he assured that, if given an opportunity to preside over the affairs of Imo State again, he will be bold In redressing the developmental retrogression in the state.”