President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday met behind closed doors with the Imo State Governor, Emeka Ihedioha, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Briefing State House correspondents at the end of the meeting, Governor Ihedioha said that he came to pay a courtesy call on the President and to solicit his intervention on infrastructure decay in the state.
According to him, he also discussed the issue of agriculture and how the state would benefit from federal government agricultural projects.
He said, “We need the Federal Government support in all facets of the economy. Government would need to support us in agriculture because government we succeeded didn’t take advantage of government policies in agriculture.
“So we are working towards agricultural revolution to ensure that that becomes a source of revenue. So we need federal government support in that regard. We need government support in education, we need government support in the area of healthcare, we need government support in area of building institutions. ”
He said that he introduced the Treasury Single Account, TSA, to improve the Internally Generated Revenue, IGR, instead of overburdening the poor masses.
He said “When I came in I found out to my shock that there were accounts in the number that was reported in the media and of course so much leakages and we were not as a state making significant progress from the IGR.
“The IGR base of the state was very weak and when the IGR base is weak without having a productive economy that obviously meant that we depended essentially from what came from federal allocation and of course other agencies being an oil producing state.
“Like you may have found out in my state was something obviously in the breach of what it should be. It became necessary that we should find a way out and I set up a Financial Advisory Committee and Financial Advisory Committee recommended that in view of where we are and because of our decision to instil a regime of fiscal discipline and a regime of transparency and accountability and of course to reduce the level of corruption in the state, we had to introduce the Treasury Single Account, TSA, which is not very ideal in many places.
“But for us, we felt we needed to start a new, we needed to confront the issues and begin to reposition our state as a state that will be alive to the demands expected of us by our people.
“When the electorate voted us in, they believe in our ability to come and transform the state, to reign in a regime of transparency and accountability, that is what we are trying to do. So we have done that.
“But apart from that, we are strengthening the Bureau for Public Procurement in the state. If check through the what is the ranking in ease of doing business, Imo finished 34th out of 37 and in several ways we have been lagging behind, we have fallen back, deteriorated from where we used to be.
“Ours used to be a very civilized state, so we have a duty and conviction that we need to take it to that level. So we have taken steps, closing the gap and we have enjoined the MDAs to work with the authorities to ensure that we can have an account to have a more accountable system of running the affairs of the state.”
He said that as a result of the rot in the previous administration, there have been pressure from the people to take action against the past government, adding that his interest was not to talk on the past government but to be focused and bring sanity to governance.
He said, “The issue is that I have been bending over backwards, I have been putting pressure on a lot of people who want certain things done. I will tell you, for instance, the opacity in land administration in my state which you must have been hearing.
” So stakeholders of the state who own those lands that were taken away from them have been on the government, putting a lot of pressure to investigate but I am like just saying take it easy that is not want I am here for, we have to redesign the state, we want to regain confidence back in Imo.
“For instance maybe you are aware that only recently we are restoring autonomy of local government administration in Imo State. Today local government funds go to local government areas. We collaborate with them to ensure there is also accountability, sense of responsibility.
“So we are not focusing on what the man had done, we are focusing on what we are doing and for once you give it to us that if a Chief executive of a state says to his people look I want to run a transparent government and an accountable government that is something significant you have to work upon.
“If you are restoring public water that is something you are doing because you did not meet water. Am I going to say I met water when there was no water? Government house Owerri was disconnected from public power supply when I came, am I supposed to clap?
“The state Secretariat as we speak is still disconnected from public power for about eight years, bridges are built in my state without iron rods, haven’t you heard about it, you have not read about it? You must have heard about it from people who visit Imo, am I surprised to clap?
“You are endangering the lives of Imo people. We don’t lead a government of propaganda, it is not about me and I don’t like talking about my predecessor in office, I am talking about government,
I am talking about focus, I am talking about the ideals of government that what we are doing first is we are restoring confidence in the entire system.
- “Judicial workers were being owed, was I the one that owed them? Didn’t you hear that they were not paid full salaries? So is it a crime if I said let’s sanitize the entire sector? Is that a crime? I come to government house and I can not operate from government house, I don’t want to talk on all those things.” he said