Federal roads expenses: Uzodinma seeks N32b from FG

Imo state governor, Hope Uzodinma, has met with President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa, Abuja, giving him a bill of N32 billion, being the amount spent by the state government to fix federal roads.

The governor is seeking a refund to enable the state to pay salaries of workers and pension.

Speaking to state house correspondents after the meeting, the governor said the money was expended by the state government before his assumption of office.

He said the state was insolvent with critical infrastructure in poor shape, adding that the president’s intervention was needed to get Imo state back to its feet.

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Fielding questions on the visit, Uzodinma stated: “I came to discuss this with President on some critical areas. Imo State you know is not solvent. Imo State is financially distressed, the roads are so bad, the security situation is rough, education is backward and a lot of things to do and we don’t have the money.

“So, 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 arrears so that we can get back the people, recover the people first before we begin to talk of infrastructure.”

On how much he was looking for, 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.”

Speaking on what the refund could be used for, he stated: “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 as we find ourselves in Imo State.”

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On the report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) placing Imo as the least corrupt state in Nigeria, the governor expressed delight at the ranking saying: “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.”

When reminded that the administration of Rochas Okorocha claimed giant strides in education development in the state, Uzodinma said he would not go into the past.

He added: “Today is not for me to begin to discuss the activities of the past administration. A time will come when we shall discuss in a very holistic manner that you will get every information you need.”

On efforts to enhance the revenue of the state, he said the government would introduce some creative measures that would not overburden the citizens.

He explained: “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 the ground and do those things that will 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 a harsh environment. It will be willing to support the government and the 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 naira 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 preview to some of them.”

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