BY CHIDI NKWOPARA
OWERRI – Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State has raised alarm over the total debt profile of approximately N100 billion he inherited from the immediate past administration, including internal and external debts and outstanding contract bills.
Okorocha, who made the startling disclosure in a broadcast on radio and television, yesterday, however, affirmed that Imo remains one of the low income states.
”Imo State remains one of the low income states with about N2.2 billion monthly subvention and about N1.9 billion monthly wage bill, which explains why previous administrations have constantly engaged in endless borrowing and passes the bulk of responsibility to future governments,” Okorocha said.
He promised that he will not embark on what he termed “the old tradition of casting blames” but will take responsibility.
He said: ”The good news is that despite the ugly financial situation, I still consider Imo State the richest state in Nigeria; richest in human resources endowed with extra-ordinary intelligence which is far more than our debt profile. This we shall explore to build the Imo State of our collective dream and aspirations.”
While saying that the wage bill of public servants is N1.9 billion monthly with an enrollment of 13,000 workers, the Governor equally said that with the inclusion of 10,000 new jobs, the wage bill will increase to more than the N2.2 billion monthly subvention.
”With the approval of N18,000 minimum wage by the out-going administration, the wage bill will be about just twice the total income of the state,” Okorocha said.
He promised to review the civil service structure with a view to getting everyone to work, stressing that there will be no room for laziness while professionalism will be respected.
Okorocha directed the immediate suspension of the 10,000 jobs created by Ikedi Ohakim, while government will, in line with its commitment to job creation, review the situation.
He said: ”We shall continue and complete all on-going projects in the state. We shall ensure that all contractors complete their projects. There shall be no sacred cow. A committee has already been set up headed by the Deputy Governor to look into all on-going and abandoned projects.”
Continuing, the Governor announced the immediate suspension of the Acting Vice Chancellor of Evan Ewerem University, Owerri, as well as approved the immediate change of name to Imo State University.