By ANAYO OKOLI
UMUAHIA—GOVERNOR Theodore Orji of Abia State has accused his commissioners and Permanent Secretaries of diverting state fund and would sack and prosecute any of them caught.
Governor Orji handed the threat to them when he met with 10 commissioners and permanent secretaries from 10 ministries over the dwindling internally generated revenue of the state.
The 10 ministries are Health, Environment, Commerce and Industry, Lands, Urban Renewal, Agriculture, Transport, Public Utilities and Finance.
Orji who was visibly annoyed said he had facts that nine of the state’s revenue generating ministries had been pocketing all the revenue generated instead of remitting the funds to the state account.
The governor directed the commissioners to immediately close all their ministries’ accounts opened to deposit funds meant for the state government treasury and also directed them to disband all touts engaged as revenue collectors.
Orji who lamented the dwindling Internally Generated Revenue, IGR, and the state’s over dependence on the federation allocation revenue for the development of the state, charged the commissioners to “go home and think about how to increase the revenue of the state apart from Ariaria market in Aba.”
According to the Governor, their “fraudulent activities and incompetence had made the state government to engage the services of a consultant, and warned that apart from the consultant, “Any other revenue collector in the state is illegal and should be disengaged with immediate effect.”
Orji accused the commissioners of turning Ariaria market into their revenue collecting place, with multiple taxations on the traders in the market, instead of looking into the various industries scattered in Aba and other parts of the state including private institutions.
The governor said “Last month we received the sum of N3.4 billion and last night I was with the Accountant-General and the Finance Commissioner trying how to share the money and pay salaries with the wage bill of the state being N2.5 billion, how do we survive.
Where do you expect me to generate that amount of money to make and pay salaries, when you and the civil servants are busy siphoning money meant for the state into your private pockets? The commissioners are well provided for and when I even give them project vehicles they turn it into their private cars even after giving them official cars.”
He advised them to sit up or be shown the way out, saying he was not elected as governor to pay salaries alone but to also leave lasting legacies in the state.