Prof Ajumbe: Dollars Hoarded In Govt Houses Not With BDCs (INTERVIEW)

by admin

Prof. Vitalis Orikeze Ajumbe is the former Commissioner for Internally
Generated Revenue (IGR) and Pension, and former Commissioner for
Information, Tourism and Public Utilities in Imo State. He is a strong voice in Nigeria and a public affairs analyst. In this interview with
speaks on issues of governance, public safety and other laundry matters.

What is your view about the Imo Charter of Equity?

When this drama began, I told everyone who cared to listen that the Imo Charter of Equity (ICoE) was a ruse and today I
still maintain it is a ruse. I’m not one of those who believe in the Charter of Equity and if you depend on the Charter of Equity
to win election and govern Imo state then you are not serious.

It apparently shows you are not qualified. You are contesting for the highest office in the state and facing other candidates in an election and you want it to be given to you on a platter of gold, on the flimsy ground of the Charter of
Equity. It is just like saying: “It is our turn”. Is that the best way
to produce the Governor of Imo
state? Of course not. Let the best candidate in an open
contest emerge. Let aspirants join the race from every zone in the
state and compete against one another, whoever wins, let the person govern Imo state. Just saying ‘It is the turn of the Owerri zone
to govern Imo’ is not enough and it is not democratic. It promotes
mediocrity and produces mediocre leaders. This is what we do not need as a people. Since 1999 when the so-called Charter of Equity was proclaimed, has there ever been any
governorship election, candidates from all the three zones in the
state did not contest?
It has never happened, so tell me how the Charter of Equity will work. Such a scenario where nobody from Okigwe or Orlu zone
will contest the governorship
election in 2027, because it has
been zoned to Owerri, will never happen because it is undemocratic and defies sound logic.
Democracy cannot accommodate Charter of Equity and any political accord that is not accommodated by the tenets of our democracy, under the circumstance, is a ruse. Some people
even claim that the governor, during his campaign for a second
term, promised to hand over to Owerri zone, but the question is,
are we running a one-party state or one-party system?
The Governor’s political party is APC; so, do they really think that only APC has the capacity
to produce the next governor of
Imo state? Will he tell all other political parties in the state not to
field candidates? It is in this state that PPA won the ruling party to
clinch the Douglas House. In this
same state, APGA won the ruling PDP to take over the Government
House. So why do they think it will not happen again in Imo? In any case, for the 24 years Orlu
zone has been in power, Owerri zone has been the highest beneficiary. Jude Agaso (Owerri zone)
was deputy to Rochas Okorocha for more than two years before
they fell apart. Immediately Agbaso was removed, Prince Eze Madumere from Owerri zone
replaced him and stayed in office till the tail end of the second
tenure of that administration.
After that tenure an Owerri man, Chief Emeka Ihedioha assumed
office and ruled for seven months with an Orlu man, Gerald Irona
as Deputy Governor. Thereafter,
Hope Uzodinma took over and had Prof. Placid Njoku from Owerri zone as his Deputy for the four years of his first tenure. In Uzodinma’s second tenure, he chose a new
Deputy Governor in the person of Lady Chinyere Ekomara, another
Owerri person. For all these long years, Owerri zone has always been
in power as either Deputy Governor or Governor. What then is the lot of Okigwe zone if the Charter of Equity was really about equity and
fairness? Since former Governor Ikedi Ohakim, Okigwe zone has
not been in power and we cannot say the same thing for Owerri zone.
So, let the Owerri zone bring their best candidate for the governorship
election in 2027.

I am qualified to run for the governorship of Imo state in 2027. I have
been in this state from the time of its
creation and I have invested in this
state. I have produced many millionaires in this state. I was a member
of the Governing Council of Alvan Ikoku College of Education, Owerri
from 1993 to 1995 and reappointed again to serve in the Council in 2021. I later became the state Chairman
of the All Nigerian People’s Party
(ANPP) for eight years.
I was the Chairman of the Management Committee of the Imo
Broadcasting Corporation (IBC); I was appointed a Commissioner for
Internally Generated Revenue; I was
appointed Chairman, Salaries and Pensions verification Committee; I was also appointed the Commissioner for information, Tourism and Public Utilities
in Imo state; I was a member of the
Child Adoption Law Review Committee of Imo state, so I have served this state. I can go on and on reeling
out my areas of service to this state
and humanity but my point is actually to show that if I decide to run for the governorship of Imo State, I would not be running on the basis
of the Charter of Equity but on the basis of the fact that I am qualified
and have paid my dues in service to Imo state. I will have no fear running
against the best from other zones of
the state. So, let’s jettison this Charter of Equity and elect the best candidate to govern Imo State.

How would you evaluate Governor Uzodinma’s first tenure?

In 1999 when Chief Achike Udenwa
became the Governor of Imo State, he brought some developments, though not mainly in the area of infrastructures apart from the Imo State Secretariat project which was actually
initiated by Evan Enwerem, then the
Udenwa Estate, some road projects and a few other infrastructural works.
Chief Ikedi Ohakim assumed office in
2007 after Udenwa’s tenure. He was
known for good taste and good quality roads and projects. Ohakim was
meticulous with details and so took quite a long time to plan his projects
and programmes. He planned to develop many small towns across Imo
state and thereafter connect Imo by road into a one-city state.
The false allegation that he flogged a Priest of the Catholic Church
helped push him out of office and unfortunately, that conspiracy of
flogging a Catholic Priest that threw him out of power was orchestrated
and escalated by actors from the Owerri zone.

Chief Rochas Okorocha came on
board in 2011 after Ohakim lost his second term bid. Okorocha understands the value of governance and
government and he used them to the fullest. Okorocha was decisive
in policy implementation and took some daring developmental strides
for which it is on record that Okorocha expanded the city of Owerri,
opening up new roads, dualizing existing ones and opening up many
areas for accelerated development. Okorocha was widely criticized for
building “China roads” which is not often an objective assessment.
My village is Umuofor, Amaimo in the Ikeduru council area of Imo State.
lWe have one of the most dilapidated
roads in Imo State. For us, we would welcome Okorocha to come to our village, take land and give us the “China roads”, as we do not have any road and would be grateful for even the said “China road”. In all, Rochas Okorocha was a jolly good governor who had a special way of connecting with the people of Imo state and removing the barrier of his executive position.
Where Okorocha went wrong however, was
when he t h o u g h t
he had
conquered Imo state and tried to impose
a governor on the people of Imo State. As a matter of fact, anybody
still thinking of imposing a governor on Imo people in 2027, should learn
from history. That is when the real political war will start; even those close to the governor now will fight him. That is Imo for you.

Chief Emeka Ihedioha assumed office in 2019 after Okorocha served out his second term. For the seven months he held sway as
governor, the 27 uncompleted stadia across the 27 LGAs of Imo state stood out like a sore thumb. One wonders what he
wanted to achieve with
such white elephant
project. That notwithstanding, it is an accepted fact and almost a consensus that
Ihedioha laid a good
foundation with good

Uzodinma who succeeded Ihedioha assumed office at a time of crisis coupled with the fact that the manner of his emergence as governor was controversial.
He was in court and before he could settle down to work, the ENDSARS protest erupted leading
to a scary peak in
insurgency and insecurity
in the jumbe
state. Uzodinma, as a new Governor tried his best, but a lot of people died in the crises that trailed the ENDSARS unrest.
The dust of the ENDSARS protest
was yet to settle when Imo was hit by
the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. These
incidents denied Uzodinma
the opportunity to start-off like his
predecessors and focus on governance. Nevertheless, towards the
end of his first tenure, he used
his FG connection to give Imo good roads. The
O w e r r i – O r l u
road; the Owerri-Okigwe road and of course
t h e OwerriUmuahia
road which is yet to be completed.
Uzodinma has done well in the
recovery of the stolen assets of the state, especially land. He is presently making great efforts to recover the
massively misappropriated land belonging to Alvan Ikoku Federal University of Education, both within the Shell Camp and across River Nworie
given to cronies of former Governor
Rochas Okorocha. Alvan Ikoku University is now a federal institution
but will find it extremely difficult to expand, develop and enhance
its services, as it has become landlocked due to its misappropriated
lands which Uzodinma is making efforts to recover for the University.

However, the Governor has not
done much in rural roads. What has
happened to the RAMP in Imo state? Rural roads done through RAMP
will increase connectivity and help make Imo a one-city state. So I urge
Uzodinma to look into rural roads in his second tenure. He should also
deliberately leave a legacy. We all
remember the Jakande Estate and the Udenwa Estate. The governor
should consider developing a mega
city by looking at the land from the
Okatankwo Bridge at Akabo to the Emekukwu end of the Okatankwo. This
would help expand and spread out development in Imo state. Ours is to advise the governor and
contribute positive ideas to help him govern us well.

I had once told the
governor not to give appointments to people in my age bracket. To reserve such appointments to younger people who would be challenged to bring up better and modern ideas
in accordance with the global best practices. We cannot keep recycling the same people and expect any innovative ideas of the 21st century. Such
cutting-edge ideas now belong to these digitally exposed generations
of young people.

In all, if given the needed support and the helping hand he needs,
Uzodinma will do well in
his second tenure.

What lessons do you think we have learnt from the 2023 election?

There are lots of lessons learnt from the 2023 election. This election brought the highest number of registered voters, especially
young Nigerians. Eventually our
hopes were dashed. The person they announced as the winner of the election was not the person that won the election. They proved to us again that in Nigeria,
anything can happen and nothing will happen. You can commit any kind of electoral malfeasance and there will be no consequences.
To make matters worse, the so called Chairman of INEC was not perturbed by the charade they
called election. However, I do not think this will dampen the morale
of Nigerians. I advise Nigerians not to lose hope but to remain
steadfast in our collective quest for an electoral system that works and a nation governed by duly
elected leaders and not imposed leaders. Though Nigerians are
still suffering the consequences
of that election, it is our belief that the wounds of 2023 will heal and
not affect the fortunes of 2027. I urge Nigerians not to lose faith.

*Recently there was the issue of
budget padding at the National

  • Budget padding is stealing and
    those who stole from us should face the law. If our National Assembly members indeed stole,
    they should all resign. We were still analyzing the claims when we heard that members of
    The Senate were given huge chunks of money. We were still processing
    that revelation when we heard that the whistle blower had been
    suspended. It is unfortunate that our Senators have made the National Assembly a laughing stock much the same way the Judiciary
    has been debased. Now tell me the hope of the common man. It has been said that our economy has been dollarized. How do you see this?

We are talking about the rise
and fall of the Naira and how to stabilize our currency and the government is raiding and arresting Bureau De Change operators.
Are they the regulators of the market or are they the source of the Dollars? They only buy and
sell. Who do they sell to? Go to the Government Houses across Nigeria and you will know that
the high-volume buyers and speculators of our currency are in the government houses. The
‘Dollarization’ of our economy is largely powered from the government Houses across Nigeria. Go to the Government Houses,
that’s where you will find the Dollars not at the BDC offices. There are Governors who have
not touched Naira since they assumed office as Governors, they only spend and dispense Dollars yet we pretend we do not know the actual saboteurs of our economy. If America decides to change
the colour of the Dollar or phase out the current Dollar bill, many
Government officials in Nigeria will die of heart attack.

The issue of insecurity across board is a matter of national concern…

The people they parade on television do not look like people that can afford N10,000. They are not the mastermind of kidnapping in Nigeria. Those that demand
N40 Trillion for ransom and
you know right away that some people somewhere are taking this
country for a ride. These big men
behind kidnapping unfortunately do not use it to develop the North
rather they ship the funds out of the country.
They just punish innocent people, travelers, farmers and make food distribution difficult in the country because farmers no longer go to the farms.
Look at how they kidnapped those school children and one
begins to wonder how they
kidnaped such numbers at once
and even more than 200 persons unspotted. Do they use trailers to
abduct these people? Where are the security checkpoints on our
roads or is it only in the Southeast that you have Police lining the roads collecting money?
From Owerri to Ikeduru my place, there are up to 10 checkpoints where they line the road
collecting money, not minding what you have in your car booth. It is a shame that inspite
of our huge defence and security budgets and the sophistication of our security forces, we are
still unable to unravel how these nomads and kidnappers, abduct
and hide away over 200 victims while negotiating ransom and we still pay some people for being intelligence officers? We need to either disband or overhaul our intelligence agencies if they cannot track down these nomads wreaking havoc in some of our
communities across the country.

What do you think is responsible for the food crisis in the country?

In some places in the North like Niger State with a huge land mass for agriculture, bandits do not allow farmers to freely go to their farms to cultivate or harvest crops, so why won’t there be a food crisis in the country.Most of the people they parade
are not the real masterminds of the banditry. We should learn to
follow the money trail. Find the people funding and arming them, then it will be easy to nip this in
the bud. Some of the proceeds of kidnapping go through our banks
and the bank hardly flag them because all they care about is profit. So, the banks are also culpable and should be held responsible for some of these infractions that have to do with the movement of money. Every year they will declare huge profits after tax. How do they make these profits when businesses are suffering due to insecurity?

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