The Governor of Imo State, Hope Uzodinma, on Thursday, met with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Mr Uzodinma was sworn in as governor last month after a ruling by the Supreme Court which sacked the former governor, Emeka Ihedioha.
Mr Ihedioha, a member of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, has approached the Supreme Court to review its judgment.
After his meeting with the president Thursday, Mr Uzodinma, a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress, addressed journalists.
He said he spoke to Mr Buhari about the financial situation of Imo State.
“Imo State is financially distressed, the roads are so bad, security situation is rough, education is backward and a lot of things to do and we don’t have the money.
“So I have come to request the kind intervention of Mr President to at least refund some monies spent on some of the federal roads in Imo State before my arrival so that we can address some pressing issues like pension arrears, salary areas so that we can get back the people, recover the people first before we begin to talk of infrastructure,” the governor said.
Read the details of Mr Uzodinma’s interview with journalists below.
Uzodinma: I came to discuss this with the President on some critical areas. Imo State you know is not solvent. Imo State is financially distressed, the roads are so bad, security situation is rough, education is backward and a lot of things to do and we don’t have the money.
So I have come to request the kind intervention of Mr President to at least refund some monies spent on some of the federal roads in Imo State before my arrival so that we can address some pressing issues like pension arrears, salary areas so that we can get back the people, recover the people first before we begin to talk of infrastructure.
Q: How much are you looking at?
Uzodinma: The consultants are still working but so far we have computed the monies in the neighbourhood of N32 billion and my first application to Mr President, I articulated those ones that will have prior approval before construction and a total sum of N12 billion has been recorded and I have submitted the request and in his magnanimity, he has assured me that he will look into it very considerably.
Q: What difference will the money make in the state?
Uzodinma: Well a journey of one thousand miles will start with one step. Wherever it can take us to, it will be a lift even if for palliative purposes. Whatever we will be able to achieve with whatever intervention given to us by Mr President. It does not necessarily mean that all those monies owed to us will be given to us.
There are so many other ways of federal government intervening in critical situations like we find ourselves in Imo State.
Q: Is corruption responsible for the hopelessness you find yourselves in Imo State because the National Bureau of Statistics in its latest rating reports that Imo State is the least corrupt state in Nigeria?
Uzodinma: Well, that is a very good commendation from them but if I begin to look into what led into the situation we have in Imo now, I will be spending economic times and it will amount to waste. But, however, whatever may be the case, we will be prudent in the way we manage whatever will be given to us in terms of intervention.
Q: We were told that the administration of Owelle Rochas Okorocha made much strides in education and offered free education, what is the problem now?
Uzodinma: Today is not for me to begin to discuss the activities of past administration, a time will come when we shall discuss in a very holistic manner that you will get every information you need.
Q: What are you going to do in Imo State to get more money?
Uzodinma: It is good to be a creative thinker as a leader. I will look into how to make my IGR worthwhile. We will look for what are the peculiarities on ground and do those things that will not be over-tasking the citizens for the purposes of raising money.
We will do what will be a win-win situation between the government and the people of Imo State in such a manner that those who are paying the money will not suffer from harsh environment but will be willing to support the government and government also will not be losing monies. For instance, if you have these petty traders, people whose incomes are between zero to one hundred thousand naira a month, running after them to pay tax, for me it does not make any strong sense. We should look at our tax regimes and policies and see how we can get a review to some of them.