State Governors are in dilemma over the planned deduction of their monthly allocations by the Federal Government over bail out funds advanced to the States.
President Muhammadu Buhari led Federal Government had last year doled out over 600 billion naria to State Governors to pay workers salaries and pensions.
Imo State was one of the 35 States that received the funds. It got close to 26 billion naria when Rochas Okorocha was Governor.
Barely one year after, Governors are biting their nails to refund the funds.
For the new State Governors, it is not a laughing matter despite their willingness to repay the loan. In Imo State where Emeka Ihedioha holds sway, refunds for bail out funds deducted from the meagre allocation of the State is coming at a time the Rebuild Imo Agenda is on course.
Findings by this newspaper further indicate that the State may lose about 1 billion naria from the deductions.
This is indeed a major challenge in a State so much had gone wrong in the past with so much to be done to get back the State on the pedestal of socio economic development after eight years of ruination. Poor human capacity development, deduction in workers salary, non payment of pensions to pensioners had been a nagging problem that plagued the State in the past.
With huge expectations from the people who voted in the new government, the Ihedioha administration has set the ball rolling to wade off any effect of the deductions on the monthly allocations of the State, a move anchored on well laid out plans, measures and policies encapsulated in the rebuild Imo Project.
Governor Ihedioha had on assumption of office introduced the Treasury Single Account, TSÀ, to ensure all government revenue go into one account.This move is coming on the heels of over 250 bank accounts operated by the past administration.
Reviving the Internal Generated revenue has been a top priority to ease off the impact of the deductions. There has been a remarkable increase in the IGR of the State with a marked increase from N300 million to N600 million naria.
Chief Press Secretary to Governor Ihedioha, Mr.Chibuike Onyeukwu had told editors of Imo State based local newspapers at Government House, Owerri, that the State Government is not unwary of the challenges posed by the deductions after the State had undergone eight years of stench in all sectors of the State.
He said proactive measures are in place to reduce the effect of the deductions.
Mr. Onyeukwu admitted that part of the measures adopted by Governor Ihedioha is to seek collaboration and partnership from Development partners across the globe to aid the State in the rebuild process.
Governor Ihedioha had visited the United States where he engaged the U.S Black Congressional Caucus, the United States Agency for International Development, USAID, the DFID and other agencies where he discussed the huge investment opportunities in Imo State.
On his return from the trip, he told newsmen that he held useful deliberations with officials of the agencies which will translate to huge benefits for the State. He further added that the visit is aimed at looking beyond the shores of Imo State in a bid to expand its economic base of the State.
“It was an economic and diplomatic visit to the United States of America, where we had cause to interface with the Congressional Black Caucus. We visited the State Department, we also visited the World Bank, DFID, and of course, USAID. And we had useful deliberations” Ihedioha said
Before then, the State Government had flagged off a World Bank assisted Rural Access and Mobility Project, RAMP that will lead to massive construction of rural roads in the 27 local governments of the State.
Analysts contend that Governor Ihedioha seems to be proactive in dealing with the challenges confronting the State ahead of time, having understood the gains of seeking collaborators outside the shores of the State in the task of making Imo great.
Mr. Austin Onuoha, a public policy analyst who spoke to this newspaper said engaging foreign partners by the Governor is commendable and the only way out of tackling myriad problems bedeviling Imo State
“There is no other fruitful way to overcome the huge effect of the deductions on the State monthly allocation as a result of the bail out refunds than to seek the aid of International collaborators and Development Agencies.
“When such deductions are made on the allocations, coupled with workers salaries and a monstrous pension to be paid to the pensioners, little or nothing will be left to develop the State compared to the fact that the allocations to the State is meagre
“This is why I commend the Governor for his foresight, vision and proactive mindset. He knew such a time will come when the Federal Government will call for refund of the bail out to the last administration.
“I believe these measures he has taken by expanding the economic base of the State is commendable. It truly shows the development of Imo State remains uppermost in his mind despite the enormous challenges” he said.