Ihedioha’s jobless probe panelists’re ‘Boys Oyee’ —Okorocha
By Chioma Gabriel & Chidi Nkwopara
OWERRI—The Panel of Investigation set up by Governor Emeka Ihedioha, to scrutinize the activities of Imo State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission, ISOPADEC, has revealed that over N6.044 billion of the commission’s fund is unaccounted for.
Reacting, the immediate past governor of the state, Senator Rochas Okorocha, has said his successor, Governor Ihedioha, has no job except fighting him(Okorocha), describing the panel as a smokescreen.
Okorocha’s comments were contained in his reaction, yesterday, to the report of ISOPADEC probe panel which indicted him in the misappropriation of over N6.044 billion.
Speaking during the handing over of the panel’s report to the governor, its Chairman, Dr. Romanus Ezeogu, said: “The shortfall in revenue accrual from the Federation Account unaccounted for stood at N6,044,744,341.37.”
He further disclosed that funding of ISOPADEC from other sources included Bailout Fund, N2,203,355,325.71; Paris Club Foreign Loan, N158,508,544.68; LGA Joint Labour Salary/Pension, N62,832,187.73; Imo State IGR Sweeping Account, N30,000,000; Secondary Education Management Board Account, N612,684,172.56, and Primary School Teachers Account N47,767,756.18.
“Simply put, what really happened translates to the fact that after diverting the Commission’s funds for whatever purpose, the barefaced administration of Rochas Okorocha would grab funds from other institutions to make up or cover the misappropriation of funds,” Ezeogu told the governor.
According to the Chairman, the issue that begs for explanation is what happened to the original 40 percent monthly derivation fund allocated to the Commission.
“Rochas Okorocha should roundly be held responsible for the entire missing fund. The Law establishing ISOPADEC provides its funding from the 13 percent derivation from the Federation Account and not from other sources,” the Chairman said.
While saying that some past managing directors advanced security votes that ran into millions of naira to themselves, Ezeogu also said they are not entitled to security votes.
Ezeogu added: “The panel also discovered N1 billion lodged in a bank at Obinze, which was without bank details or descriptions of any kind.”
The panel equally unearthed that “arbitrary release of funds close to the inauguration of the present administration by the past government is suspect.”
According to Ezeogu: “A whooping N422 million was released to Rise and Shine Motors for the supply of pre-inauguration vehicles.
“In the same vein, over N200 million was hurriedly released for purchase of transformers, during the political campaign era.”
Similarly, the panel discovered that the failed Marine University gulped N402,393,750, stressing that tender procedures were not adhered to and no due process was observed.
“Besides, a particular civil servant should explain what he did with the N35 million advanced to him as seen in the relevant vouchers submitted to the panel,” Ezeogu said.
Ihedioha’s reaction to report
Responding, Governor Ihedioha commended the panelists for doing a thorough job, even as he promised that his administration would take appropriate action on the report.
“It is important that we get through what happened in the past, if we must reposition the Commission for a more efficient delivery towards realising its mandate,” Ihedioha said.
However, reacting to the indictment, Senator Rochas Okorocha, through his Special Adviser Media, Sam Onwuemeodo, said ISOPADEC funds were used for those it was meant for and that he was never invited by the Boys Oyee panel.
In the statement, Okorocha said: “Nigerians, especially Imo people, should note that between May 29, 2019 when Chief Emeka Ihedioha was inaugurated as governor and today, he has not done any other thing in Imo than fighting his predecessor, Senator Rochas Okorocha and the family.
“And part of the unwarranted wars against Okorocha was the so-called ISOPADEC report which claimed that the former governor, diverted N6 billion of the commission’s funds and the panel never gave details of how it arrived at that.
“Again, not minding that Ihedioha’s government had written 32 petitions to EFCC and 15 to ICPC against Okorocha and the family, the questionable panel on ISOPADEC was just a smokescreen because a serious panel would have invited the former governor or any of the former chairmen or managing directors of the commission under Okorocha for questioning or fact-finding.
“But the panel never did that because it was only packaged for blackmail.
“For 12 years, PDP governed Imo and ran ISOPADEC aground. The PDP government did nothing for the oil producing areas of Ohaji, Egbema and Oguta.
“It ran ISOPADEC from a rented three bedroom apartment close to Winners Chapel, Owerri, without electricity and water. It was like a bar.
“Militancy was the order of the day with the people deserting their areas.”
Continuing, the statement said: “But Okorocha came and built a multi-billion naira edifice in a choice area in Owerri, as headquarters of ISOPADEC; built the Marine University at Ossemotor in Oguta, which was nearing completion, stopped militancy and rehabilitated the militants through empowerment programmes.
“He carried out multi-million naira empowerment schemes for the youths and women of the areas, built schools and hospitals for them. Tarred their roads and gave them light, and also appointed several of their sons and daughters into government.
“He employed a lot of youths from the area into ISOPADEC with the current government sacking about one thousand of such elements within three months it came on board.
“Ihedioha should have found his way back to the House of Representatives to continue within his areas of specialisation, which included over-sight functions and constituency projects business, because he has shown that he does not have the needed capacity to govern a highly enlightened state such as Imo.
‘He has done nothing’
“For almost nine months, the Ihedioha government appears stranded with nothing to show that a new government is in Imo and he is diverting attention over his motionless government by fighting Okorocha full time.
“His administration only exists in internet. Go to WhatsApp, Face-book and other social media platforms, you will see his administration in action. But in Imo, it is a clear case of the more you look, the less you see.
“The government is only known for hosting billionaires and multi-millionaires to prodigal luncheon and gala nights almost on daily basis.
“We are also challenging the Ihedioha government to publish what the PDP governments in the state did for 12 years with ISOPADEC funds and let us publish what Okorocha did with ISOPADEC funds in eight years.
“Nigerians, especially Imo people, are tired of all these bogus accusations by Ihedioha on daily basis. The government should be more matured in its approach to issues, especially as they concern the former governor.
“For the sake of emphasis, we want to inform Nigerians that the Ihedioha government is grossly disconnected from the people. It is a government of godfathers and godmothers.
“They have a hotel owned by one of the godfathers, where they squander all the resources of the state and with all kinds of taxes and levies forced on the citizenry.
“He has made a lot of promises to Imo people and has not fulfilled any. With all the noise about pension, he has only paid three months. Nothing is working in the state.
“Kidnapping, traffic jam and refuse heaps are back to the state capital. This is not what Imo people bargained for after Okorocha had taken the state to an enviable height in all aspects of governance. The PDP government in the state has taken Imo backward.
“Governor Ihedioha should explain to Imo people what he has done with the state’s resources including federal allocations, local government allocations, ISOPADEC funds, internally-generated revenue that has snowballed at the expense of Imo people, the N48 billion left behind for him by Okorocha and other funds thereto.
“What has he done with these monies? This government is like the old story of tortoise and the wife and the only consolation is that Imo people never voted for Ihedioha. INEC made him governor.”