EDITORIAL

Panel Report: Will Uzodinma Live up to expectation

The eight years of erstwhile Governor Rochas Anayo Okorocha rule was one that was widely adjudged to have short-changed the Imo people badly. The enormous damage which is believed to have taken the state backwards now poses a great challenge to the administrations after that government. While it lasted, the citizens groaned under heavy pains of recklessness and lawlessness whereas the Rescue Mission of the Okorocha government claimed to have more than met the needs of the people.

Some of the issues held against that government include disrespect for the rule of law, provision of substandard facilities, gross negligence in road infrastructure, inability of the government to honour its obligation to its civil servants and pensioners, huge integrity deficit, wasteful spending of state resources, lack of due process in governance, relegation of the operation of the civil service, personalization, and acquisition of state assets among other issues.

Most pronounced of the charges is the allegation of gross misappropriation of the state’s finances running into billions of naira. It is on account of this that the former Governor Emeka Ihedioha constituted a Judicial Panel of Inquiry on contracts awarded in the state for the period 2011-2019. This singular action it would appear met the heart desires of Imolites. This could be evinced from the number of calls by the Imo Elders Council for a thorough investigation of the Okorocha’s government.

The Panel was in the middle of its assignment before Ihedioha was kicked out of power through the Supreme Court decision. Interestingly, to enable it conclude its assignment satisfactorily, the new Imo Governor, Senator Hope Uzodinma has graciously granted them more time to wind up. Sadly, it has been widely reported that former Governor Rochas Okorocha has failed on occasions to respond to some of the issues on the contract awards which were reported to have been recklessly done.

The issues oozing out from the Panel of inquiry as submitted by a trusted aide of the administration is mind boggling and unprecedented in the history of the state. A situation where a project is alleged to have been awarded three times and all paid for, leaves the mind guessing. It was also gathered that huge sums were paid for jobs not done and the contractor absconded. The huge sums bandied about that have been lost in sleazy deals no doubt is the reason the State is in a state of comatose.

It is against this background that the Edge Express wishes to commend and applaud the efforts of the governor in upholding the work of the Committee to ascertain how Imo resources were expended during the period under review. The governor has done well to disappoint many observers who had speculated that the administration would sacrifice the effort of his predecessor at the altar of political party fraternity. We appreciate the fact that the issue at stake goes beyond party affiliation.

Imo is one of the states in the country struggling for survival. There are so much of developmental challenges begging for attention. There is need therefore for the state to judiciously utilize every kobo available to it rather than allow it end up in the pocket of few privileged individuals at the expense of the suffering masses. Any resources or funds wrongfully applied before now, should be recovered for the advancement of the state.

The state needs every kobo to rejuvenate its economy. Beyond that, the government has demonstrated indirectly its preparedness to toe the line of prudence and transparency in its style of governance. We are convinced that since it is ready to recover the stolen assets of the state, it will consequently not allow further frittering away of its scarce resources through mismanagement, of public funds with light fingers.

We will admonish that those who hold the views that opening the books of the previous governments for inquiry amounts to witch hunt should have a rethink especially in the face of overwhelming evidence. While we commend the efforts of the Judicial Panel we call on all Imolites to give their maximum co-operation in the effort to drive a better Imo. Imo belongs to all of us and we owe a duty to make it better than we met else posterity will query us.

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