Frontline governorship aspirant in Imo State, Mr. Okey Ezeh, has said one of his top priorities is to usher in an economically resurgent state that will no longer be dependent on federal allocations.
The ex-banker who is gunning for the coveted seat on the platform of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, revealed that presently, 77% of Imo resources are accruable from federal allocations, even as he regretted the vulnerability of Imo State in view of the advancements in technology which have made crude oil increasingly obsolete.
Addressing his teeming supporters who had gone to receive him at the Sam Mbakwe Airport, Owerri on his return from a trip at the weekend, Ezeh said there is no justification for the hunger, squalor and deprivation to which Imo people have been subjected. He asserted that Imo is blessed and richly endowed in human and mineral resources.
According to him, “We have white clay deposits in most parts of the state which can be used in the manufacture of ceramics. We have limestone deposits that can be harnessed to produce cement. We have huge agricultural potential, given our arable farmland. But we have not been able to tap into that, we have not been able to make some value addition. And this is where the opportunity lies for us to meaningfully and gainfully employ the huge army of unemployed young people.
“I have come for a rebirth, to see an Imo State where the 163 oil wells scattered in 12 locations are utilized for the benefit of all of our people. Now all we have to show for it is gas flaring. There is no reason Imo doesn’t have an energy corridor, given the vast potentials that can be harnessed from the gas that is flared in Imo State.
“We have huge tourism potentials. We have one of the best natural blue lakes in sub-Saharan Africa in Oguta. But it has not been harnessed in any way. We have huge potentials. But the question remains: Have we done enough to transform our state? And the answer, unfortunately, is no!”
The financial management expert further lamented that Imo is presently rated number 34 out of 36 in the ease of doing business index. He expressed displeasure that the state is ravaged by huge debt overhang.
“As at 2013, Imo State went from the debt of N12.3 billion to N93.3 billion at the end of 2016. Presently, Imo is indebted to well over N120 billion and counting.
“Imo needs to be revamped. We need somebody who is credible. We need somebody who is competent. We need somebody that has the relevant track record. We need somebody with the capacity, with the vision to reposition Imo State. And my mission is to change the Imo situation for good. If Imo works, it is to the glory of God, to the credit of our people and to the benefit of generations unborn,” he said.