•Speaks on probe of N19.63b Imo Local Govt Money
By Chinonso Alozie, Owerri
An elder statesman from Imo state, Bob Njemanze, yesterday said that the Mercedes Benz worth N187 million bought by the former governor of Imo state, Emeka Ihedioha, for his use just seven months in office as a governor, has exposed him as one who came to live a luxury life.
Njemanze in an interview with Vanguard reporter in Owerri, spoke on several issues, adding that the N187 million, could have been channeled to more meaningful projects rather than for the use of the governor. He also spoke on the ongoing probe in Imo State.
What’s your take on the alleged misappropriation of Imo local government funds to the tune of N19.63 billion in the past administrations. There’s a claim or an allegation that only N3.7 billion out of the 19.63billion has been accounted for.
It is really unfortunate, because I have always warned that the seat of governance is a very sensitive and slippery one. The issue of immunity has not helped. Why are people always facing trial after serving in offices? Then after leaving office as governors you find them scampering to go to the Senate which has given the Senate a very bad name and image. The governors are so scared about the rot they created while in office.
Emeka Ihedioha, we understand, says his government can account for N3b or there about, Rochas Okorocha administration should account for the rest. Governors go with appellation excellency. They should live up to it.
I think it’s a general probe. Nobody is singled out. Ihedioha, is not the first to be probed. I did caution that certain positions are like the proverbial woman and her rapper. At no time it is pulled that you don’t get a stain. So when some people who felt aggrieved over court’s removal of Ihedioha started threatening, speaking recklessly and carelessly they forgot the fact that a government is like a moving train, you don’t stay on it’s way.
That is what may have necessitated the inclusion of Ihedioha’s tenure in the investigation of the misappropriation of the local government funds. Government and governors find it very easy to ‘abuse’ the local government funds just like the audit report that was sent to Imo state House of Assembly has exposed.
I shouted when the Ihedioha’s administration developed what they thought was a fantastic idea, of compelling local governments administration, on receipt of their funds to make available in any guise whatever name they put it, funds for local government for building secretariat and stadiums.
Think of Owerri, the municipality, we already had a stadium good enough like a national stadium and it is included in this allocation of local government.
And in order to create means of spending that of Owerri, they decided to refurbish the sports hall in that state stadium. I want to say this, we the ordinary citizens have not been very lucky with our political class.
I recall the Ikedi Ohakim’s IRROMA. In Ohakim’s case, at least we saw the equipment, we saw the things that were bought with our money, even if it was inflated and over bloated and Rochas Okorocha, came and carted them away.
So, in the case of Ihedioha, what’s the situation like
Then, Ihedioha, developed his own idea of purchasing agricultural equipment, earth moving equipment and all of that. I want to say this, some of the equipment were bought in Lagos but some people gave a a different impression.
So when people in Ihedioha’s administration were acting like attack dogs, they were not being fair to Ihedioha, because the bulk stops on his desk. Have you noticed that, Ihedioha, as a person has never said a word. Because he knows the implications.
Before, I forget, I personally went to see the vehicle for which N187 million was paid, by Ihedioha. So Ihedioha, had enough money to buy such a vehicle, for his use?. If he wanted to indulge himself in that type of luxury or patronize himself; not when we are looking for money to pay salaries, not when we are looking for money to pay pensions.
And unfortunately for them, Hope Uzodinma is very sharp, to have discovered the vehicle and ordered that they bring it to the government House.
Know this, Uzodinma is not controversial, but he does not runaway from controversy. A lot of things were done by the past administration, that are unbecoming. And all it requires is to hold back his attack dogs because it can’t take them anywhere.
Ihedioha approached the court to stop his probe, what do you make of this?
It is unfortunate. If I were him, I would not go to the court. The essence of war is peace. His going to court to do what, to stop the court from determining the truth of the matter?
If one did no wrong and your conscience is clear, then I leave you to go the full hog. If one did wrong, seek reprieve.
Those who lost at the supreme court regarding the Imo guber case, said they would make Imo ungovernable, are you worried about your state?
They are stupid, while will you make Imo ungovernable ? You are being selfish. Imo does not belong to you. It’s is very unfortunately to have people still speak in this manner.
You cannot destroy your state because you are not in government or that the court faulted your mandate. It’s like saying if I don’t rule there will be no Imo. That’s being selfish.
We have a very dirty political class within our political clime. If you remember at a point in time those days one politician was seen as a very acceptable politician.
During that election news filtered that he was leading with a thousand votes, which were imported from Ideato, then his opponent transported ten thousand votes and that dismissed him in that election.
It is the same thing that has been happening in Imo state. Remember the last guber election in Imo state, an election result that came in from this same Ideato, was shredded and they now reached an understanding that we would allow that result of Ideato but let us wait for the result from Mbaise area.
The parties agreed and the one from Mbaise now came in and superseded the Ideato results. Then another issue came up. It was the issue of spread and it was discovered neither the Ideator results nor the Mbaise results had the spread. But the Mbaise result was leading, at that point, Araraume insisted that the election was not free and fair but the umpire said it was free and fair.
You all know that, the entire state if not the country, took exception on perpetuating Rochas Okorocha, in Imo state, and it would have been the worst thing to have a re-run that period. So, everybody conceded even without meeting the constitutional spread, and it was said that, let us take the simple majority and work with it.
It was said that Uzodinma’s results were excluded from the polling units
Yes, Uzodinma said the election was free and fair. But he realized the game they played on him wherever the report or results showed he had the highest number of votes, they were reckless in removing it. To the point that they were careless in removing the results from 388 polling units.
Uzodinma wrestled that governorship ticket from Rochas Okorocha and his puppet son-in-law, Uche Nwosu, and as a rest, the ovation was high on him because nobody could have done that.
So, during the election it went well for him and he got the support of his people, what they did was to remove these results from 388 polling units, and Uzodinmma was forced down to the 4th position.
Uzodinma with the popularity he achieved that particular point in time could not have been in the 4th position.
All Uzodinma was saying compute the results, I don’t mind the results put out from Ideato and Mbaise, I just want the whole results including my own to be added.
When they got to the court of appeal the judges flew with the normal trend but the dissent judge said that the outcome did not go with justice.
He said when all the results of Uzodinma were brought together they gave him the highest votes and that is what we need to understand.
Adapalm plantation has been resuscitated, how do you feel about this development
In this period, countries of the world are facing serious economic challenges, the resuscitation of Adapalm plantation was the best idea. Uzodinma has reconnected the state and driving it to the expected direction.
But misguided people seemed to have ascribed any achievements of the present administration to Ihedioha, against Uzodinma.
Remember, Ndubuisi Kanu, laid out the road map of Owerri, Sunny Adeniyi continued with it and handed over to Mbakwe and Mbakwe took the glory.
Are there differences in the way governments have been run?
With the way Uzodinma is going, by the time he finishes his administration, Mbakwe will be a child’s play. Because, Uzodinma is not into personal acquisition of property unlike what we have seen in other governors.
If he has any fault, it is the fault of recognizing and indulging people around him. His is known for lifting people out of difficulty. That is the difference between him and the immediate past ones.
Emeka does things for himself and sometimes a few people around him. But even at that, the people around him still complain a lot. But Uzodinma is known for his personal desire to assist people out of poverty. He has been known for this even before he became governor.
How would you assess Uzodinma in 100 days
It is premature to start assessing him. In hundred days we make a lot of mistakes. In 1832, Jefferson, after hundred days he laid out his road map of his administration.
But because, we are copy cats, we now think that in 100 days it should be assessed and you should achieve all you need to do in your first tenure in office. Just like Okorocha did and at last you saw that most of the things collapsed. However, he is a very intelligent man but he may not be brilliant.
Here is a man who discovered that you can touch on the sentiment of the people by patronizing poverty. Where did he get his seed money to start his free education ? Was it about advertising free education and making people to patronize it.
You want to speak on the Civil service reform, where govt has asked for Bank account, phone numbers and BVN from Imo workers, to know exactly the number of those the govt is paying
It is for the interest of the government to check fraud in the system, if some adjustments and readjustments are done and salaries are primed because it has been over politicized then you submit yourself for proper check so that all of us will enjoy.
Just like the pension list, they say people don’t die and the pension is increasing every month. We have heard that the number has been stagnated for over 30 years.
No death, no retirement that is not acceptable. We really need to start all over again because we have lost the essence of integrity and morality and we are not helping the younger ones.