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RENEWING FAITH IN A GREATER IMO

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					RENEWING FAITH IN A GREATER IMO


AN ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, IKEDI OHAKIM,
GOVERNOR OF IMO STATE, AT THE IMO
STAKEHOLDERS FORUM, ON MONDAY 4 JANUARY
2010.


PROTOCOLS


It is with gratitude to God the Almighty that I welcome you
all to this year’s stakeholders’ Forum. But let me first wish
you all a well deserved Happy and Prosperous New Year!
Indeed, we have to thank God that we overcame the trials
and tribulations of last year to be here today. It is my hope
and prayer that 2010 will be a year of divine embellishment
and fulfillment for all of us; that we shall all find favour with
God; that we shall all make peace with ourselves and with
our neighbours; that we shall love our state and serve it
better; that we shall all reap abundantly whatever we sow,
in Jesus’ name!
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A REVIEW OF 2009
As you all know, every year, this Forum gives the
government an opportunity to give account of its
stewardship to the people of Imo state, lay before the
people the roadmap for the new year and place before them
the expectation of the government from the people. This is
particularly important because government is a collective
effort of the people to give themselves good life.
Governments everywhere need the collaboration and
cooperation of the people to succeed.


I must thank the good people of Imo state immensely for
your support for this government and your fervent prayers
for your state. Indeed, your prayers and unflinching support
have seen the government through many tough and
challenging times. I can assure you that, with the legacy we
are leaving for this state and with the help of God, your faith
in the government will be richly rewarded.
                                                                 3


THE POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT
As you all know, the political atmosphere in Imo State in the
last ten years has been that of eternal wrangling and
bickering among politicians. Last year was not different. This
is so because some of us politicians in Imo state do not
accept that elections are over.


DEEPENING DEMOCRACY IN THE STATE
One of the political problems we encountered in the state
when we came into office is franchise politics, otherwise
known as Kashim Imam formula or politics of
godfatherism. The bully tactics of politicians counted more
than the votes of the people. A major political step we have
taken is to re-brand politics in Imo State, create attitudinal
change, value reorientation and participatory democracy.
The tempo of our re-branding will be sustained not minding
the antics of those who want to resurrect the Kashim Imam
formula which means that they will be responsible for who
gets what, where and how in the local governments they
claim as theirs. The New Face Organisation, NFO, was
launched in every ward and every local government of the
state for the participation of the masses of our people in
                                                                4


grassroots attitudinal change and politics of service. We
must remember always that power belongs to God while
sovereignty belongs to the people. I urge you all, as
important stakeholders in the politics of this state, to actively
participate in the activities of the NFO.


BREAKING THE INSULARITY OF THE STATE
A positive and monumental political event of 2009 took place
on 25 July. That day, in deference to the wishes of the
majority of Imo people, your Governor, a founding member
of PDP, returned to the PDP. Many critics, indeed many
Nigerians, did not understand why we made that political
move. We broke a habit of insularity that is not the true
political character of our people, and which began at the end
of the civil war, when it was considered a sellout to engage
with the government at the centre. Thus our leaders who
belonged to the National Party of Nigeria were regarded with
suspicion. The consequence of the politics of isolation was
the absence of Federal presence in the entire South East.
Curiously enough, some of our people made political career
out of crying marginalization without a strategy to end it.
                                                               5


The step we took on 25 July 2009 realigned our state with
the centre for greater stability and economic benefit of our
people. We have seriously engaged the government at the
centre more than any government ever. The economic
benefits are there to justify our action. In less than three
years in office we have attracted Federal projects worth over
N85 billion. Some of them are:
  i.     the Elele-Owerri Road worth N25 billion
  ii.    the Oguta sea Port worth N15 billion
  iii.   the dredging of Nworie, N7 billion,
  iv.    the Isinweke-Onicha Uboma Road, N5 billion,
  v.     the NDDC Ukwuoji-Ehime-road, N3 billion,
  vi.    2 new power sub-stations at Aboh Mbaise and
         Ideator South, N7 billion,
  vii. Millennium Development Goals projects, N2 billion
  viii. RAMP, FG/World Bank project, over US$ 60 million
  ix.    savings from handover of Alvan Ikoku, N30 million
         monthly, etc.
Apart from the above benefits, the Federal Government,
through the NDDC has donated Transformers and sanitation
equipment to us. The sub-station at Egbu is being upgraded.
The Federal Government has also approved for the entire
                                                               6


brigade of the Army to be part of our security operation. The
Brigade Commander is now in charge of our Operation
Festival outfit in the state. We have succeeded in getting
some of our road projects to be included in the budget of
either the NDDC or the Niger Delta Ministry. This frees some
of our funds to tackle other projects in the state. We must
thank President Yar’Adua for he has been most supportive of
the development drive of this government.


Politics is not just about running around, making noise and
planting smear campaigns in the media against opponents.
Under the philosophy of the New Face of Imo, we preach
politics of development and development of politics, not
politics for its own sake.


THE ECONOMIC ENVIRONMENT
We are aware of the excruciating agony our people are
going through. Our people are confronted by collapsed and
dilapidated infrastructure, insecurity and unemployment.
Those who work have no pension after serving the nation
for the better part of their active life. They suffer to pay
school fees for their children who graduate with no prospect
                                                                  7


of job. Because of the fallen standards of education,
graduates can neither read nor write. Instability in school
calendar prolongs the agony of students and parents. There
is no more respect for our culture or values. There is a
prevalence of gangster politics. Many communities are
engaged in endless disputes. People are no longer their
brothers’ keeper.


This account is as much about government’s efforts to
address some of these issues and ameliorate the sufferings
of our people as the people’s roles in addressing the
challenges facing them. We cannot ignore the responsibility
of the people themselves in dealing with these challenges.
These days, people have developed what is called
“entitlement mindset”, whereby they look up to government
entirely for their survival. Every big man today is waiting for
a government contract. Every young man is chasing
government LPO or is writing proposals for government’s
patronage. If they don’t get, they dismiss the government as
doing nothing. Meanwhile, we have all abandoned farming.
Most of our economic trees and crops are extinct.
                                                                 8


What happened to the Igbo culture of survival through self-
help? What happened to the famed industriousness of the
Igbo man through which he bridged the educational gap
between him and his critical competitors in the country in
just three decades? In the past, communities built schools
and hospitals through communal efforts. Today those
institutions are completely in ruins and nobody thinks of
maintaining them. Next to the very magnificent church in a
small village is a terribly dilapidated school. There is
evidence that our people are still capable of great
community efforts. Our research showed that in one of our
three senatorial zones, on-going church projects in various
communities is worth N52 billion. It will be nice if they
extended the same effort towards school development, so as
to fulfill the Biblical injunction of giving to Caesar his due
and giving God His too.


If you dropped an Indian in Owerri today, in two years, he
would develop an industry that can employ 200 people.
Where are the Igbo entrepreneurs? If they cannot invest in
Igbo land, who will do it? Why do they enrich other parts of
the country and abandon their own homeland? Yet they
                                                               9


expect the government to build roads into their family
compounds, failing which they dismiss the government as
useless! Yet they do not pay tax to the state! While they are
busy giving various excuses why they cannot come home to
invest, the biggest and the most expensive hotel project on-
going in Owerri today belongs to an Anambra citizen living in
Canada, in partnership with Canadian investors.


What we are saying is that people should help themselves
while government tackles other areas of development with
the resources available to it. In our case, we have chosen
not to deal with these monumental problems in the short
term. We have chosen to lay the foundation for the future
on which any government after us can build. We are building
a legacy for the future. We are creating an environment for
economic action in consonance with the policy thrust of the
New Face of Imo.


COPING WITH THE GLOBAL ECONOMIC MELTDOWN
The economy in the year 2009 was under the throes of the
global economic meltdown. The effect is very obvious to all.
The direct consequences on Nigeria was the reduction in the
                                                               10


demand of our crude oil, with the attendant collapse of price
from US$147 per barrel to as low as US$ 38 per barrel. And
because of the violent militancy in the Niger Delta, Nigeria
was producing about 700,000 barrels per day far less than
its OPEC production quota of 2.4 million barrels per day,
until the Amnesty programme initiated and successfully
implemented by President Yar’Adua. As a result of all these,
Statutory Allocations to states dropped almost below 50
percent. In many states, a number of projects were scaled
down or completely abandoned. Some states were many
months in arrears of workers’ salaries.


For Imo state, the global economic crisis affected us in other
ways. Some of the foreign investors with whom we signed
MOU were adversely affected as they could not access credit
to meet their own part of the obligation. This, coupled with
the Niger Delta crisis delayed the take off of some of the
signature projects like the Royal Oak Refinery and the
Wonder Lake Resort.


Secondly, Imo state economy depends largely on remittance
from our citizens in the diaspora and a seasonal inflow
                                                            11


during Christmas and Easter when our people living in other
Nigerian cities return home. But due to the global economic
meltdown, many of those in the diaspora lost their jobs,
savings and homes and could no longer remit money home.
Even those in cities like Onitsha, Aba and Port Harcourt lost
their jobs as factories and companies where they worked
closed down and could no longer send money home.


We in Imo state were, however, far sighted about the global
economic meltdown when many believed it would not affect
Nigeria significantly. We took proactive belt-tightening
measures in the 2009 budget. For example, we scaled down
on new projects in order to concentrate on on-going ones.
Government donations and sponsorship for medical trips
abroad were suspended. Purchase of new vehicles was
suspended, except for security vehicles. Expenditure on
overhead items was reduced by 25 percent. Approval for
seminars and conferences was centralized and drastically
reduced. In addition, imprest for political appointees was
suspended and all political appointees currently donate 25
percent of their salaries effective March 2009. We took these
measures before many states followed our footsteps. It is
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largely because of these and other proactive measures that
we took that we were able to keep the New Face of Imo
Agenda on course.


THE CHARACTER OF BUDGET 2010
In view of the lessons of the global economic crisis, the
budget of 2010 was drawn with the boldness to say, with
the exception of Owerri Metropolis, no new projects will be
undertaken in the New Year. Rather we are going to
concentrate on completing all on-going projects. This is
because this government is mindful of the development
dislocations   associated   with   the   abandoned   projects
syndrome. We have ordered all contractors who abandoned
projects to go back to site. Those who have not are being
taken to court.


These economic challenges notwithstanding, ladies and
gentlemen, we achieved remarkable success in our policies
and programmes implementation in 2009.


VISIBLE ECONOMIC INDICATORS
                                                               13


The indices for measuring economic growth are in the level
of opportunities created through policies and programmes of
government. These opportunities need not be created
directly by government. What is important is for government
to have policies that create the environment for people to
find windows of economic opportunity in the state. Let me
cite an example in an area we are all familiar with, the
hospitality industry. The hospitality industry has gained
tremendously from our policies and programmes. When we
came to office, hotel rooms in Owerri stood at 2,200. Today,
there are 10,800 rooms, and they have almost 99 percent
occupancy rate, one of the highest in the country. Many
more hotels and fast food businesses are still springing up.


What the hotel occupancy rate is telling us is that there are
some economic activities that are bringing people to Imo
state. Today, Imo State plays host to most national
conferences and seminars. These visitors stay in our hotels,
buy from our markets and are commuted by transporters in
the state. Airlines have increased their flight schedules to
and from the state. Some of our programmes have created
direct jobs in excess of 15,000. There are those who criticize
                                                              14


the growth of hotels in Owerri as a harbinger of immorality.
Ironically, those critics stay in hotels when they travel out of
the state for conferences and seminars.


Another indicator is the appreciation of real estate in Owerri.
Today, a plot of land that sold for less than N500,000 is now
selling for as much as N5 million. A house that sold for N5
million a few months ago is now selling for about N20
million! These are all economic indicators of the benefits of
our policies and programmes in the last few years.


We understand the tourism potentials of this state as one of
the greatest avenues of increasing economic activities in the
state and creating jobs for our graduating youths. That is
why we embarked on mega tourist projects like the Imo
Wonder Lake project.


IMO WONDERLAKE PROJECT
As I said, from the beginning of this Administration, we
emphasized those projects that have the greatest potentials
for massive job creation. Tourism is one of them. Anybody in
doubt should go to other states this time of the year and see
                                                                   15


what we are talking about. We have the potentials to even
surpass what is happening in those other states because
Imo citizens are very vibrant and enjoy entertainment and
leisure wherever they can find them. Moreover we boast of
the greatest number and the best in the entertainment
industry. That is why we embarked on, and have continued
to pursue the turning around of Oguta Lake into a modern
tourist   haven   called   Imo    Wonder     Lake   Resort    and
Conference Centre.


The Wonder Lake project is one of the reasons we went to
the capital market. The bond was over-subscribed because
the project is a very viable one, even though some Imo
citizens took us to court to stall the bond. That added to the
delay of the takeoff of the project. Now the money is
available, the project will take off first quarter of this 2010.
Nevertheless, in order to get it right and secure your
interest, we have been very meticulous in our negotiations
with potential investors. The Wonder Lake project is gigantic
and all such projects involve intricate planning and
negotiation that take time. It is still our flagship tourism
project. This Administration will endeavour also to complete
                                                             16


the development of the Mbari Cultural complex which will
house the Amphi Theatre, Museum and Cultural Centre.


THE ECONOMICS OF ROAD DEVELOPEMNT
It has become the norm to judge the performance of
governments strictly on the number of roads it builds. And
until a road is built into a big man’s bedroom, the
government has done nothing! Here again, we have been
bold to look beyond the sentiments of roads for the sake of
political appeasement and engaged on road projects that
have economic importance for the state. Part of the New
Face of Imo philosophy is to make Imo a one-city state. In
fulfillment of that, and in pursuance of the Millennium
Development Goals, government embarked on massive road
construction, rehabilitation and maintenance.


It is on record that in less than three years, we have
constructed over 204 kilometers of road, 40 road projects
measuring 350 kilometers are on-going, and we are
constructing the most ambitious road project, the 150
kilometer Bourlevard called Imo Interconnectivity Multilane
Freeway with work going on in the following four sections:
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1. Iho-Ogwa-Amauzari-Amaigbo Road                      20km
2. Mbieri-T Junction-Orji-Uratta-Naze Road             20km
3. Ahiara Junction-Okpala Road Junction                25km
4. Ukwuorji-Nworieubi-Atta Junction-Amaimo
  Afor-Ogbe Road                                      45km


The designs of 7 additional sections of the Freeway road
project have been completed, including toll plazas. In
addition, the design of the Owerri Inner Ring Road is
presently being reviewed by a consultant. When the project
is completed, it will greatly decongest traffic in Owerri
metropolis. With the rainy season over, government
embarked on aggressive repair of broken roads, with heavy
concentration on Owerri metropolis.


The important economic benefit of our road projects is that
it has dramatically led to the appreciation of land in Owerri
and other parts of the state. Wherever we opened a road,
there has followed frenetic real estate development there.
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THE RE-ORGANISATION OF IROMA
The establishment of IRROMA is one policy that has
generated a lot of rumours and deliberate misinformation in
the state. You will recall, ladies and gentlemen, that on 15
November 2008, we flagged off the Imo Rural Roads
Maintenance Agency, IRROMA, to operate like the old Public
Works Department, PWD, to maintain and open up more
rural roads. Our opponents would not acknowledge the
innovation, which has been acknowledged by the UNDP.
They said that the equipment were hired and were returned
to the owners after the commissioning. Others said that the
equipment were second hand. Some have even claimed that
the roads graded by IRROMA were done by private efforts.


The efforts of IRROMA, nevertheless, have augmented the
stock of motorable roads in our state. By 2009 over 3000
kilometres of rural roads have been graded. With the end of
the rain, more roads are receiving attention.


Fellow citizens of Imo state, because of the importance we
attach to road development in this state, as a means of
enhancing economic activity in the state, IRROMA has been
                                                           19


re-organised. As a responsible government, we are aware of
some of the complaints about the operation of IRROMA. Its
operation has therefore been reorganized. It is no longer
confined to maintaining rural roads only. It will now operate
as Imo Road Maintenance Agency, IROMA. The re-organised
IROMA shall operate from three Zonal Headquarters where
all equipment and staff are being moved. IROMA is now an
independent body and will undertake both rural and urban
road repairs and maintenance.


The ambition of this Administration to open up all parts of
the State and make the State accessible as one mega city-
state will be pursued this year through massive road
rehabilitation in all the Local Government Areas, in
partnership with the re-organised IROMA. We shall continue
the construction and completion of entrance roads into the
state capital as well as the construction of the Imo State
Inter-connectivity Free Way project.


INTERVENTION IN PROVIDING HOUSING
Many people have asked what the government is doing in
the area of provision of housing. Some people challenge us
                                                           20


to show one house we have built. We do not want to build
Housing Estates that end up a waste of the people’s
resources. We have taken our time to plan for modern
Housing Estates befitting our vision of the New Face of
Imo. These plans are also tied to our land reform,
administration and management. In 2010, we shall pursue
massive Housing Development, not only to provide housing
for the populace but also as an avenue for job creation. Five
developers have been issued Certificates of Occupancy to
commence massive Housing projects in Owerri Capital
Territory.


URBAN AND RURAL WATER SUPPLY
We know that the question on everybody’s lips is why the
Owerri Water Scheme has remained problematic. You all
must remember that the Owerri Water Scheme was planned
for less than 400,000 people. Owerri has since many years
outgrown the original design. Yet not much was done in the
past years. Ordinary repairs are not working. We invited the
consultants who designed it for redesigning and complete
rehabilitation. In the interim, we ordered and installed
additional low lift, high lift and backwash pumps. Again you
                                                              21


must remember that these parts are not bought off-the-
shelf. They take a while to manufacture. Meanwhile, the
mini water schemes within the state capital namely, Egbu,
Orji, Egbeada and Ubomiri will be fully upgraded to assist
our efforts at the Otamiri Water Scheme whose upgrading
and total rehabilitation will take off in 2010.


The Okigwe Water Scheme is functioning. But we are
considering a better way of powering it for greater
efficiency. Part of the problems of the Okigwe Water Scheme
is that saboteurs have been vandalizing to claim that it does
not work. Five people have been arrested and are in
custody.   They    have    made    useful   confessions.   Their
prosecution will be made public. Meanwhile we are working
with the Federal Government to award contracts for its
reticulation.


The state came first in the Millennium Development Goals
Programmes as it concerns rural water schemes. The
government embarked on the reactivation of 21 giant water
projects across the length and breath of the State.         The
reactivation of 12 existing giant water schemes was
                                                           22


completed, while 9 others attained 75 percent completion.
Supply and installation of generating sets were completed in
13 gigantic Water Schemes, while 2 are on-going. Of the 33
solar powered boreholes, 23 were completed and 10 others
attained 65 percent completion.


In the New Year, government is going to embark on the
rehabilitation of all water schemes in the Local Governments,
in a tripartite partnership with the local governments and
communities. The communities will contribute 10 percent,
the Local Governments will contribute 20 percent and the
state will contribute 70 percent. The communities, along
with IWADA will asses the condition of the water scheme
and the cost implication on which the sharing formula will be
based. This is not a promise. It is a programme for which
fund is already available. The first phase, which is
rehabilitation, kicks off this January. The second phase will
be reticulation. So every community must get into action
immediately.


ELECTRICITY
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The near total absence of electricity in the State, particularly
in the state capital Owerri, has remained a nightmare to all.
We all know that without power, most of our efforts at
industrializing the state will come to nought. Government
shares the concerns of Imo citizens over the state of
electricity in this State. Power, as you all know, is essentially
a Federal Government Affairs. However, we hope that the
situation will improve as soon as the IPP project going on at
Egbema is completed. Government has also attracted 2 new
sub-stations to be built at Aboh Mbaise and Ideato South to
boost electricity supply. Contracts have been awarded and
the sites have been handed over to the contractors. In
addition, the Egbu sub-station is being upgraded. These
efforts will be able to address our power needs in the
shortest possible time.


PROMOTING INDUSTRIALIZATION
One of the problems of industrialization today is how to
provide facilities that will attract an investor. This problem is
minimized through shared facilities and assured market at
Free Zones, Enterprise Centres and Industrial Clusters.
Government, though hampered by the global economic
                                                             24


meltdown, has been able to make remarkable inroad in
creating an environment to give impetus to the Enterprise
Centres and the Industrial Cluster. While waiting for power
for the mega Enterprises Centres, all artisan and traders
have been put in a Centre where government provided
power, adult education schools, clinics and accounting
facilities. Naze has become a national example. We will
replicate it in Orlu and Okigwe with a second one in Owerri.
Local Governments are encouraged to do same so that
mechanics, welders and other artisans do not litter our
streets.


In the year 2010 the State Government will pursue more
aggressively its goals of creating the enabling environment
for industrialization, job creation for our youths and wealth
creation. To this end, Government will partner with
interested local and foreign investors in the year to establish
industries, especially in the Oil and Gas section, as well as
establish three Enterprises Free Zones in Orlu, Owerri and
Okigwe.
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Some ailing Government-owned industries like Nsu Tile and
Pottery factory Ehime Mbano, Clay industries Ezinachi and
Avutu Poultry will be re-packaged for full Public-Private-
Partnership   or   outright   privatization.   Government   will
establish a marching fund in partnership with Bank of
Industry, to provide Micro Finance for small scale and
medium scale enterprise as a special way of promoting rapid
industrial growth of the State. A fund of N500 million will be
set aside for this purpose.


Many people have been saying that all the industries started
by late Sam Mbakwe have been allowed to die. Such people
should know that those industries were sold over 20 years
ago and are no longer government assets.


THE PEOPLE MUST EAT FIRST
Today one of the most important issues confronting the
world is hunger. No nation can run on empty stomach. You
cannot plan much in development if the people are hungry.
As the French philosopher, Jean Jacques Rousseau said,
“happiness is a good bank account, a good cook and a good
                                                               26


digestion”. To tackle food security, we knew that we could
not pursue agriculture the old way.


In our quest for commercial farming, the State entered into
partnership with South African Farmers Group under the
AgroNova project. So far AgroNova has been working under
an MOU we entered into with them. This has led to the
establishment of model farms in the areas of fisheries and
irrigated agriculture. The fish production component is
already on course at Umuna Fish Culture Station. We are
now about to sign a formal contract with AgroNova.


The FADAMA II projects are very much on course in the
eleven participating LGAs. The State, having surpassed the
project   implementation   target     of   60%   of   the   Local
Development Plans (LDPs), has qualified for participation in
the next phase of FADAMA III. We are getting N1 billion
Agric Support Loan from the Federal Government in the first
quarter of 2010 for the establishment of 5000 hectares farm,
fish project and fruit processing. We have distributed farm
implements to farmers. Extension workers have been
recruited to teach other farmers. We have also developed
                                                           27


over 3 million palm seedlings for distribution to farmers.
Everybody must plant palm trees; you don’t need to be a
farmer.


THE ENVIRONMENT IS OUR LIFE
Last month, the whole world gathered in Copenhagen,
Denmark to discuss climactic change. This is because the
way we live and the abuse of our environment has started to
affect our lives adversely and may endanger our future
irreparably. This global concern vindicates our vision on the
environment for which we launched the Clean and Green
Initiative. But some politicians among us could not
understand us. They played politics with the matter. I hope
they now know better.


Government’s objective of reclaiming and protecting our
environment are being pursued steadily. Of the 460 erosion
sites identified in the state, 73 have been studied and
designed with their Bill of Engineering Measurement and
Evaluation (BEME) costed ready for award to competent
contractors. The Ministry of Petroleum and Environment
completed the control of four erosion sites in Nkwo-Mbaa in
                                                        28


Isiala Mbano LGA, Ebenato-Ekwe phase 1 emergency
erosion site in Isu LGA, Umuorji Mgbidi sites in Oru West
LGA and Emergency Erosion control at Holy Sisters of the
Needy, Okwu Uratta, in Owerri-North LGA. Design measure
and emergency erosion control have been carried out in
Ikeduru, Ideato South and Ezinihitte Mbaise LGAs.


We have drawn the attention of the National Assembly to
the erosion menace in the state, which estimated cost is
over N400 billion. The Senate Committee has visited the
sites. We made solid presentation at the Senate retreat at
Enugu on 11 November 2009. Apart from relating with the
Ecological Fund, we are working hard to get the Federal
Government to declare the South East a disaster zone and
deal with the erosion accordingly.


A NEW DIRECTION FOR ENTRACO
The Environmental Transformation Commission, ENTRACO
has been criticized by many of you for its modus operandi.
Some of these reports have reached the government. As a
responsive and responsible government, we are going to
address those concerns of the public immediately. This
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government    will   not   permit   any   abuse   of   peoples’
fundamental rights in implementing our policies. But I urge
our people to develop a culture of obeying simple laws.
ENTRACO under a current re-organisation, has gone into
partnership with ENVIROSERVE for effective and integrated
waste management that will include Recycle Operation,
Incineration, Composting/Fertilizer plant and Waste to
Energy. The law setting up ENTRACO will be fully
implemented in 2010 in order to institutionalize the Clean
and Green Initiative. More tree planting and beautification
will be undertaken. Those who have rebuilt the removed
shacks and shanties of any type or colour are advised to
remove them in their own interest. Otherwise they will be
charged to the sanitation court.


NWORIE DREDGING
Those who politicise the dredging of Nworie should realize
that the idea of dredging Nworie is not a new one. It has
featured in the plans of many previous administrations. But
it has not been done either because of lack of funds or lack
of will. There is no better time to embark on the project than
now.. It is important to remember that all the underground
                                                          30


drainage outlets, which are now silted, empty into the
Nworie River. If nothing is done, Owerri will be submerged
under flood, if the amount of rains witnessed this year is
anything to go by. The health hazards of the Nworie are real
as shown by investigation conducted on it. People must
desist from attacks that are inimical to our interest.


In the year under review, we concluded the studies, design,
costing and Environmental Impact Assessment of the Nworie
River. The actual dredging has begun in partnership with the
NDDC. As I said earlier, Imo state now has a better leverage
with the Federal Government and its agencies than ever
before. That was why we were able to attract the
partnership of the NDDC in the Nworie project.


THE REFINERY PROJECT
As I said earlier, some of the investors with whom we signed
MOUs suffered some setbacks due to the global economic
crisis. And they could not get the approval of their
government to commit funds citing kidnappings as a reason.
In the light of this, we decided to work on other options
which have turned out better deals that may see us
                                                                  31


partnering with the NNPC in a joint venture. To that effect, a
son of Imo State, Dr. Tony Chukwueke, former Director of
the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, has been
appointed as Chairman of the Technical Committee of this
venture to negotiate details of partnership, equity, ceding of
oil fields and allocation of crude to Imo refinery.


THE RE-BRANDING OF AHIAJOKU LECTURE
One of the highlights of 2009 was the re-branded Ahiajoku
lecture which held in Owerri on 23 January 2009. The world
renowned writer, our own Prof. Chinua Achebe was in
Owerri to deliver the lecture. Achebe’s presence brought the
attention of the world to Imo state as well as Nigeria as the
BBC, CNN and other international media covered the event.
When we proposed to bring Achebe for the lecture, many
skeptics said we could not do it. But after a tough logistics
that pushed the lecture from November 2008 to January
2009, we pulled off the feat. That, in itself, is a lesson that
nothing is impossible if we are determined to achieve it. Last
November, the 2009 Ahiajoku lecture, delivered by another
African icon, our own Prof Bert Nnaji, was equally successful.
We also held a re-branded Ozuruimo Festival on 28 October
                                                            32


2009, with Prof Aloy Ejiogu delivering a lecture on the
concept of Mbari in Igbo land at the colloquium.


AHIAJOKU INSTITUTE
Government has decided that the Ahiajoku lecture series
should enter a new phase and a new concept. Accordingly,
the series will now become Ahiajoku Institute capable of
conducting research, organising workshops, lectures and
seminars, publishing books and research materials, and
carrying out other activities to make it self-funding. A
professorial chair has been endowed in Evan Enwerem
University. We are now searching for a Director-General. The
three volumes of previous lectures are now available.


LANDS REFORM AND MANAGEMENT
As you all know, land is our own crude oil. As I said earlier,
land has appreciated in the state since this administration
came into office. We have however noticed sharp practices
that have denied the state needed revenues and caused
improper administration of land in the state. We have
therefore embarked on land reform, management and
administration in the state with gusto. The construction of
                                                                  33


the Imo State Geographic Information Services (IGIS) office
has been completed. With the installation of equipment, the
computerization of land records and re-certification of C of O
has commenced from today. This re-certification of all land
titles will last till 30 June 2010.


All title documents not re-certified before or by the 30th June
2010 shall cease to be valid for land transactions in the state
and by implication shall become of no value as an
instrument for land transaction. Application forms for re-
certification   are   obtainable      from   at   the   Local   Land
Authorities in all the 27 Local Government Areas in the state.
Completed forms shall be returned with a non-refundable
processing fee of N20,000 only, payable into IGIS Special
Account with BankPHB Plc no 034106000039 nationwide and
all other banks collecting IGR for the state.


For many years, allottees of state land and holders of Rights
of Occupancy have failed, refused or neglected to pay
ground rents/rates as and when due. The law is that ground
rent is to be paid in advance on the 1st of January each year
without demand from the government. Failure attracts
                                                               34


forfeiture of the land. Many of us are today in breach of this
law. The calculated arrears of payment is over N6 billion.
The Hon. Commissioner for Lands, Survey and Urban
Planning has issued a Public Notice giving today 4 January
2010 as deadline. But in the spirit of this season of joy and
celebration, I have directed that the deadline be extended to
26 February 2010.


I expect you to reciprocate this gesture by paying promptly.
Government needs money to open up more estates and
provide housing for those who need it. This year,
Government will open 6 new layouts in partnership with
some banks. Government will also pay compensations to
land owners of 6 Layouts that have been acquired. There
will be acquisition of more areas for allocation for residential,
commercial and public building purposes. More open spaces
will be developed in new layouts to provide the necessary
leisure and tourist spots in the State. All these require
money.


ORLU MASTER PLAN
Orlu is another city that can take the pressure off Owerri.
But it has been difficult to modernize Orlu. Government is
                                                             35


determined to recreate Orlu into a modern city. Government
has completed MOU with the consultants responsible for
Owerri master plan to plan Orlu. Anew Enterprise Centre will
be sited in Orlu to move traders and artisans. The Umuna-
Amaifeke Road will be cleared of street traders and shanties
in line with the New Face of Imo.


YOUTH DEVELOPMENT THROUGH SPORTS
This government has as its priority, the empowerment of
youths to be useful citizens. This philosophy has guided
most of our policies. One of the most pressing challenges
today is to keep youths gainfully employed or occupied.
Otherwise they will drift into crime. One of the areas through
which youths, all over the world, have escaped from poverty
and crime is sports. The State made a giant stride in the
implementation of its policies, especially in the area of youth
development. The State won 23 gold, 28 silver and 36
bronze medals at the 16th National Sports festival which was
held at Kaduna in February 2009. This is the State’s best
outing in the recent past.
                                                             36


The Heartland Football Club made a successful outing in the
2008/2009 Globacom Premier League and played the finals
of the CAF Championship League. Over N500 million was
released to the Heartland Football Club to prosecute the CAF
Championship. Miss Ifeoma Iheanacho of Imo State won a
Bronze Medal for Nigeria in the women 67 kg Class at the
World Wrestling Championship in Denmark in September
2009. We will continue to improve on our sporting facilities
in the State. Efforts are underway to make the Dan Anyiam
Stadium Complex a masterpiece in sporting activities.
Okigwe stadium and Okaa games village will receive
adequate attention in 2010.


SAVING OUR EDUCATION
One of the worrying issues for this state is the general decay
in the educational system. Not only have infrastructure
collapsed, standard has fallen abysmally. Indiscipline is rife,
cultism is the norm, sorting is the culture. Government is
determined to tackle the rot in our educational system.
Government is living up to its responsibilities of ensuring the
delivery of accessible, qualitative and functional education,
because the 21st century will be knowledge-driven. The
                                                            37


Michael Okpara College of Agriculture Umuagwo was
upgraded to the status of a Polytechnic. Government
released the sum of N45 million for accreditation of 10
programmes of the institution. Government also recruited 91
academic and 38 non-academic staff to enable the institution
to get full accreditation. The State, during the period under
review, completed the handover of Alvan Ikoku College of
Education to the Federal Government.


The   State   Government     awarded    a   total   of   2,600
scholarships, 600 for the physically challenged students in
both the secondary schools and tertiary institutions. In our
commitment to further boost the adult and non-formal
education, the State distributed learning materials to all the
Study Centres across the State. There was also a reduction
of school fees from N8,000 to N3,700. Those quoting some
totally wrong figures should desist from causing confusion.
To further boost education and rehabilitate all educational
infrastructures in the state, the first phase of the Education
Endowment Fund was launched in the 27 local governments
in the state on 28 December 2009. We intend to raise over
                                                             38


N52 billion. The finale of the launching will be at the state
level.


In 2010, the State Government will embark on the policy of
disarticulation and re-articulation of Junior and Senior
Secondary Schools in the State in order to reduce cost and
make     teachers    available    for   teaching    functions.
Disarticulation is simply the running of junior and senior
secondary schools in one school with two different
Principals. Re-articulation is the merger of Junior and Senior
sections under one Principal. Ten schools out of 311
Secondary schools in the state will be merged; the school
with better facilities will absorb the other. Schools with very
low student population and are in very close proximity to
each order will be merged to reduce costs and avoid wastes.
Disarticulation will remain in 15 schools with student
population of 1000 and above.


This year also we will commence the handover of schools to
their missionaries owners. It is important to understand why
we are implementing this policy. There is urgent need to
rebuild the character of youths through moral education. We
                                                             39


want to challenge the Church leadership to re-invent the
strict discipline that was the hallmark of education on the
part of teachers and students. The policy will also allow
government enough elbow room to play its traditional role of
regulating education and enforcing standards. This will
ensure that we produce graduates who are worthy in
character and learning.


This policy will be implemented in three phases. Phase one;
handover    to   missionaries.   Phase   two;    handover   to
communities and Phase three; handover to individuals. In
Phase one 44 schools will be handed over to missionaries
that are willing and have indicated their intention and
readiness   in   writing.   Government   will,   however,   be
responsible for the payment of teachers’ salaries for the first
two years in the schools handed over to missionaries.
Government also guarantees the payment of the retirement
benefits of teachers involved in the handover process during
the period of transition.


Teachers are, however, free to move to public schools after
handover, if they so desire. The missionaries will be
                                                           40


responsible for day-to-day management of their schools, but
Government, through the Ministry of Education, will ensure
standards and protect the welfare of staff and students.
Government expects the cooperation of all concerned in
implementing these policies, especially the disarticulation
and re-articulation of schools.


EVAN ENWEREM UNIVERSITY
Evan Enwerem University has been in the news for the
wrong reasons. A university that was once voted the best
state University in the nation, and 9th among all the
Universities, both state and Federal, is now a place from
which all manner of malfeasances emanate. The University
has become a cesspool of cultism and examination
malpractices. All these are manifesting because the present
location of the university is not conducive for learning. The
University cannot forever remain on a temporary site meant
for a secondary school.


In order to provide an environment that is conducive to
teaching and learning, and in order to save tertiary
education in the state, government has embarked on the
                                                             41


process of relocating the University from its current
temporary site to a new permanent site. Two sites have
been identified, one in Ogbaku and another in Oke-Uvuru/
Ngor Okpala. Even though it is at the discretion of the
Governor to determine the new location, this government
has decided to be guided to avoid the mistake made in the
location of the School of Engineering which site has created
avoidable construction challenges. Consultants are currently
studying the two sites in order to provide appropriate criteria
for choice of site by the State Government. As soon as the
necessary assessments and other variables are completed,
Government will announce the new site based purely on
objective considerations.


Government will see that its White Paper on the report of
the Visitation Panel is fully implemented and the School of
Engineering will be completed in 2010 for it to meet the
accreditation requirement for the year. I urge all those
playing crude politics with the affairs of the State University
to desist from such acts. We shall not abandon the return of
the University to a first class institution of learning and we
shall not sacrifice the rights of our children to quality
                                                                 42


education on the altar of unprogressive politics. The future
of this state must be paramount in the politics of this state.




HEALTH IS WEALTH
When people use the construction of the roads to judge the
performance of a government, they forget many areas of
achievement that are not easily visible as you walk the
streets. One of the areas that we have made tremendous
achievement is in health. We recorded a very impressive
performance in providing affordable healthcare services to
the populace.


We came first in the whole Federation in keeping infant and
maternal deaths low. Imo has the lowest infant mortality
and maternal death in the entire Federation. The State
achieved over 80% in routine immunization coverage. This is
above the Federal Government’s target coverage of 75%.
The State has continued to maintain a polio-free status since
2005. In the area of Primary Health Care, the government
procured and distributed 27 new Hiace buses to all the Local
Governments of the State.
                                                           43




The free medical Mission programme of the State recorded
35 major surgeries while over 5,500 patients were treated of
various ailments. A total of 1,324 patients of Imo State
origin and the other neighbouring Eastern States were
treated of cataract and other eye diseases under the
partnership programme of Imo State Government and Tulsi
Chanrai Foundation of India.


In our bid to continue to lead in infant and maternal
healthcare, a total of 197,080 doses of ACT anti-malaria
drugs were distributed to children under 5 years, while
338,334 doses of intermittent preventive treatment drugs
were distributed to pregnant women. Also 33,800 units of
long   lasting   insecticide-treated   mosquito   nets   were
distributed to pregnant women and children.


In order to deepen awareness in the area of HIV/AIDS
scourge,   6     new   HIV   counseling/test   centres   were
established. During the period under review, 30 new medical
doctors were employed to boost manpower capacity in the
health sector.
                                                              44




Government will continue to sustain its immunization project
in the state. The outstanding work at the Imo State
University Teaching Hospital will be completed in the
forthcoming year. The School of Nursing at Owerri and the
School of Basic Midwifery at Aboh Mbaise will be equipped
and re-accredited in 2010. The State will consolidate on the
gains of the reduction of the HIV/AIDS prevalence rate from
present 3.9% to 3.2 %.


LAW, JUSTICE AND RULE OF LAW
Ladies and gentlemen, in our determination to give the
people of Imo State access to justice under the New Face
of Imo, we strengthened the judicial system in the state by
providing   the   judiciary   with   improved   facilities   and
manpower capacity.


The hallmark of our efforts in the improvement of access to
justice in the State was the successful inauguration of the
Court of Appeal, Owerri Judicial Division. Government
reconstructed, renovated, fully furnished and donated the
Court of Appeal complex at Okigwe Road as well as the
                                                                 45


Judges quarters, all serviced with standby generators, while
all the Judges were provided with laptops. Government has
also provided land for the permanent site for the Appeal
Court as well as quarters for the Justices. We reformed our
Customary Court system. All the Chairmen of Customary
Courts in the State are now legal Practitioners.


Government has also provided laptops for all the Judges of
the High Court and Customary Court of Appeal. Our policy of
providing 30KVA sound-proof generating sets for the
residences of our judges as well as the renovation the
Courts in all the Judicial Divisions in Imo State is on-going.


In the year 2010, this administration will sustain the
provision of facilities for the delivery of justice and rule of
law. Approval has been given for the appointment of more
judges and members of the Customary Courts to replace
those whose tenures have expired. All vacancies at the
bench will be filled so as to enhance the quality of
dispensing justice to the masses. Government will continue
to explore all avenues for quick resolution and dispensation
of justice. The Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanism will
                                                           46


be strengthened. Computerisation of all the courts will be
completed.




OUR LOCAL GOVERNMENT REFORMS
The local government is another area we have recorded
remarkable achievements that area not easily visible like
roads. Our reform in the Local Government administration is
one of the things that have incurred us the wrath of some
big men in the state. The blocking of leakages in the
disbursement of Local Government funds has proved very
effective. We have drastically reduced the incidence of
“judgment debts” and other mismanagements running into
billions of Naira. Contractors who do business with the Local
Governments now must provide performance bonds and
bank guarantees.


Our vision to raise the standard of living at the grassroots
through the opening of more access roads in each of the 27
Local Governments received a boost during the year under
review. Working in partnership with the Local Governments,
IROMA, which was based in the 27 local Governments,
                                                                 47


employed 27 engineers, 27 Higher Works Superintendents,
drivers, grader operators and other artisans.


In the year under review over 3000Km of earth roads were
graded. With assets worth over N11 billion, the activities of
IROMA at the local governments have attracted the attention
of   Rural   Access   Mobility   Project   (RAMP),    a     Federal
Government/World Bank Project and this has led to the
inclusion of Imo state among 6 other states that have
qualified to access the funds for the improvement of rural
road access.


The synergy with the local government administration has
also made possible the execution of the Imo State Multilane
Interconnectivity Freeway which will link up 19 local
governments and 500 communities. This new approach has
enabled the Local Governments to deliver more dividends of
democracy to the people at the grassroots. The Biometric
Data Capture exercise in the 27 LGAs has flushed out over
5,000 ghost workers in the system. We have sustained the
sanitization of the Chieftaincy institution in the state.
                                                           48


The LGAs are the forms of governance closest to the people
at the grassroots. This Administration will continue to
encourage    the   existing   synergy   between   the   state
government and the LGAs to continue to deliver dividends of
democracy to the people. The Imo Roads Maintenance
Agency (IROMA) will be strengthened to continue to achieve
its targets of providing motorable roads in the state. The
reforms in the local government system will continue no
matter whose ox is gored.


LOCAL GOVERNMENT ELECTION
We would conduct elections when it is most auspicious and
the conditions must be right. The laws will be in place, the
reform processes fully institutionalized and the people
including political parties properly orientated to ensure the
emergence of credible leaders. We are yet to receive the bill
passed by the House of Assembly preparatory to having the
requisite laws to guide the election.


AUDITOR GENERAL OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT REPORT
The audit report and the findings are mind boggling and
explain why Local Governments in the past were unable to
                                                             49


perform   their   roles.   The   level of   feasting   on local
government funds, in excess of N5 billion, aided by poor
leadership, was simply disturbing and that informed the LG
reforms we embarked upon. Soon after the LG audit report
was published, the level of opposition fuelled by some big
political fishes increased. Government will implement the
report to its letters and every kobo missing must be
recovered. Requisite demand notices have been issued to
the debtors by the Attorney-General of the State. Civil
proceedings aimed at recovering the debts have been
commenced against the debtors. That is the only way to
save Local Government administration in the state. What we
have achieved so far under the present LG shows that the
incapacitation of the past was as a result of mindless looting
by the powerful few who should be thinking of the poor
masses.


THE CRISES OF AUTONOMOUS COMMUNITIES
Every hamlet in Imo is now clamouring for Autonomous
Community. Once a traditional Ruler dies, the community is
engulfed in crisis related to chieftaincy and Ezeship. In some
communities, it is a struggle for power between the
                                                            50


leadership of the Town Union and the Traditional Ruler.
When we came into office, we met over 400 community
disputes. We set up the Jerry Egemba Panel to look into
these because the crises made sons of the community to
stay away for fear of their security and they could not
participate in their Communities’ development projects. We
have succeeded in resolving 275 of these disputes,
remaining about 125 difficult ones to be resolved by our
White Paper.


The last government refused to assent to the autonomous
communities as created by the last House of Assembly and
went to court. Convinced of the wisdom in the matter and
based on anomalies in the process of the creation, the
matter was sustained by this government. As soon as the
vexed issues are resolved, new Autonomous Communities
will be created based on equity, sensitivity and acceptable
objective criteria.


CREATION OF NEW STATES
Some of the setbacks the Igbo have suffered since the end
of the civil war emanate from the inequity in states and local
                                                           51


governments creation. The South East is the only zone with
the least number of states. If you remember that states are
used as units of allocation of resources and values,
admission   into   unity   schools,   Defence   Academy   and
recruitment into the Armed Forces in this country, you can
then imagine our losses since the end of the war. To right
this wrong has become the major agitation in the South East
since the proposed Constitution amendment. It must be
remembered that what the South East is asking for is an
equalization state, before the nation can embark on any new
nationwide states creation.


Since the opening of this debate, many states agitation
groups have emerged in the South East. Every big man has
a group and this is likely to ridicule our just demand. At a
meeting of South East Governors, it was, therefore, agreed
that an Elders Committee be set up to look at all agitations,
harmonize demands and agree on a common presentation
which, as soon as it is endorsed by Ohaneze, would form the
South East demand. It is important that we do not create
the impression that the Igbo nation cannot agree on any
matter of common interest.
                                                            52




INFORMATION IS POWER
Ladies and gentlemen, you will recall that when this
administration came on board, the state television was off
the air. The FM radio did not fair better. In such a situation
where vital information could not be communicated to the
people, rumour mongering became an industry. There was a
contract awarded for the Radio/television which was not
performed. The matter was referred to arbitration by the last
administration. We are still pursuing the matter. But we
decided to transcend that to re-brand the stations, because
we made a promise to the people of Imo State that we will
give them world class Radio and Television Stations, the
type that everyone will be proud of. That dream is now a
reality. The re-branded Imo Orient TV and Orient FM have
been commissioned. During the period under review, a
commercial digital photo laboratory was installed by the
Ministry of Information and Strategy to ease the job and
improve the quality of professional photographers in the
state and as a revenue earner. The re-branded Statesman
newspaper was also re-launched.
                                                             53




Information remains a key factor in dissemination of
government activities. Information, Communication and
Technology is presently the key driving every economy. We
will continue to support the radio and television stations, as
well as the Statesman to improve on their present
standards to make them render quality services to the State
and beyond.


NEW MINISTRY
Having established a working relationship with the federal
Government and its agencies, we need close follow up with
Federal Government projects. A new Ministry to be called
Bureau for Niger Delta Ministry will, therefore, be created for
effective liaison and interface with the Federal Ministry of
Niger Delta.


COUNCIL OF ELDERS
I must use this opportunity to thank the Council of Elders for
its contributions towards peace and stability of the state.
These contributions in advising and guiding the government
in the interpretation of the vision through policies and
                                                           54


progammes have led government to now decide to
institutionalize the Council through law. This would create
an opportunity for more constructive engagement and
participation in governance.


BOND AS A DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY
Many critics have said all manner of things, most of which
are deliberately misleading, about the Development Bond
the state floated. The truth is that for a state that is in a
hurry   to   develop,   you    cannot   embark   on   massive
development projects with savings. The best strategy has
always been to borrow the cheapest way to do what you
want to do and gradually pay later from savings. With the
realities of these days, development with monthly Statutory
Allocation is out of the question. We were lucky we applied
for the bond when we did. We have realized the first tranche
of N18 billion. This is being applied to mega projects that
will turn the economy of the round. And as a prudent
government, we adequately provided for repayment in the
2010 budget.
                                                           55




MANAGING OUR FINANCES
Many people from time to time disseminate rumours about
the looting of the state. No government has husbanded the
financial resources of the state better than we have done.
The Ministry of Finance has improved our debt recovery
drive as well as bank reconciliations. About N997 million was
realized from Debt Reconciliation while N1.337 billion was
recovered from Bank reconciliations in three banks. A
Committee set up under the chairmanship of the Hon.
Commissioner for Finance successfully renegotiated the
IBC’s indebtedness to Spring Bank from N264 Million to N20
million.


With the assistance of consultants, US$ 4.6 million has been
recovered from reconciliation of Imo state’s debt to
multilateral creditors. Similarly, with about 90 percent
reconciliation work completed on the State’s exit of debts
from the Paris and London Clubs of creditors, it is expected
that about US$100 million will also be recovered. We are
also seeking the refund of US$27 million from the Federal
Government on account of rural electrification projects
                                                                56


financed by the State with borrowings from the Paris and
London Clubs, which were taken over by fiat by the Federal
Government     during   the     military   era.   We   are   doing
everything, including taking legal steps to recover our oil
wells ceded to other states. We have taken the Federal
Government to court over our entitlements not paid to us for
over 15 years. We are determined to recover every kobo
and use it prudently for you.


From January to September 2009, the state received
dividend income totaling N43, 849,790.93 from its various
investments. Additional dividend income of N48, 723,021.65
was also due for our collection by the end of December
2009. Are the above statistics the record of a profligate
government?


THE OWERRI STOCK EXCHANGE
As I said earlier, we are doing essentially is to lay the
foundation for the future of this state. One of the giant steps
we took was the opening of the Owerri Trading Floor of the
Nigerian Stock exchange on 6 February 2009. With the
state-of-the-art electronic trading floor, equipped with online
                                                            57


real time trading links to all exchanges, our people are now
ready to join the rest of the world in this new culture of
investment. The presence of the Trading Floor boosted the
number of stock brokers based in Owerri and created new
jobs.


AIR MIDWEST NIG LTD AND SAM MBAKWE AIRPORT
In 2009, the Government made additional investment of N50
million in the Air Midwest Nigeria Ltd. The purpose of this
investment was to avert the stifling of the Sam Mbakwe
International Cargo Airport. You will recall that as soon as
the Port Harcourt Airport was reopened, most of the airlines
abandoned the Sam Mbakwe Airport. Our move in the Air
Midwest forced other airlines to return. Today Sam Mbakwe
Airport is serviced by four airlines with flights to Lagos and
Abuja. The Airline does not belong to Ohakim or even Imo
state government. We just invested 20 percent, and this was
done in consultation with well meaning Imo citizens. An
experienced retired Air Vice Marshall is representing us on
the board. The shares could be off-loaded in future using
due process. Some technical hitches delayed the arrival of
                                                              58


the aircraft ordered by Air Midwest. But today some of them
have arrived.


Air Midwest will be based at Sam Mbakwe Airport. We have
applied for the airport to be concessioned to Imo state,
when concessioning starts this year. There is every hope
that our application will receive favourable consideration.


THE NEW GOVERNMENT HOUSE/ OFFICE PROJECT
The Ministry of Finance has continued to finance the project.
There was a disagreement with the contractors, but it has
been resolved and they are back on site as you can see for
yourself. When you are dealing with human beings, things
don’t always work with the regularity of a machine. You can
see that the rumour in town that no work is going on here is
unfounded.


If you go to the Governor’s new Office project, you can also
see that work is in progress and is almost 80 percent
completed.


INTERNALLY GENERATED REVENUE
                                                            59


Ladies and gentlemen, in our determination to rely less on
Statutory Allocation and be self reliant, this Administration
has intensified revenue drive in order to improve on the
Internally Generated Revenue. We succeeded in raising the
state’s monthly IGR from N161,000,000 to N430,000,000 a
month. We have embarked on vigorous Human Resource
development and        blocked   wastages   and   leakages in
Revenue collection. Sensitization Task Forces went to all the
Local Governments to let our people know that time is now
for us to pull ourselves by our bootstraps. We have come to
the point where we can no longer treat Internally Generated
Revenue with levity.


Increased IGR is not intended to impose hardship on the
masses as mischief makers are saying. The big men have
not been paying what they are supposed to pay. For
example, for many years, many of you here have not paid
ground rents or tenement rates on their landed property.
Government simply wants to explore many of such untapped
sources of revenue and will continue to pursue with greater
vigour efficient revenue collection in the state. To that end,
let me repeat that henceforth, no government agency is
                                                             60


allowed to collect government revenue. All money due to the
government will be paid into designated accounts in
designated banks.


This Administration will continue to ensure that all MDAs
adopt   Due   Process    in   the   conduct   of   Government
businesses. Accountability, transparency and competitive
principles as well as probity will certainly continue to be the
watch-word. To this end, government plans to complete the
total automation/computarization of all processes.


SECURITY
Fellow citizens of Imo state, there is an organic connection
among security, investment and job creation. That is why we
have invested heavily in security. Today Operation Festival
has more than 200 vehicles equipped with high-tech
gadgets. We have over 400 police-trained vigilante. Plain-
clothes detectives are everywhere. There are other critical
measures we are taking that cannot be disclosed here.


We know that the incidence of kidnapping has worried the
many of you. In desperation, many people ask what the
government is doing. We have done a lot, such that few
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kidnappings notwithstanding, Imo still maintains its record
as the safest state in the Federation. For example, many of
the alleged kidnappers who disturbed this state have been
arrested and charged to court.


Miss Ejiaku Ozioma Chiaka, 18 years old, Effiong Kelvin
Akan, male, 22, Chukwu John Aloma, male 30, Mohammed
Noah Loveday, male, 25 and Onwevadu Edison Okechukwu,
male 28 were charged for the alleged kidnap of one
Chinyere Pamela Nnoromele, nee Ejiaku. The following were
charged for the alleged kidnap of Ronnis Emmanuel Eronini;
Udochukwu Edmund Onyeneho, male, 30, Mgbahurike
Emmanuel Ugochukwu, male, 32, Chinenyeze Jerome
Onyeneho, male 35 and Mbagwu Chukwudi Vitalis, male, 32.


The following were charged for the alleged kidnap of Jonah
Nwajiuba; Uzoma Ezeh, male, 23, Chinyeze Onukagha, male,
25 and Christian Chimobi Okafor, male, 28. Those charged
for the alleged kidnap of Obinna Ojinere are Udochukwu
Edmund    Onyeneho,    male,     30,   Mgbahurike   Emmanuel
Ugochukwu, male, 32, Chima Emmanuel Ugochukwu, male,
29, Chinenyeze Jerome Onyeneho, male, 35, Ifeanyi Joseph
                                                          62


Chukwudalu, male, 22 and Dokubo Sikoye Kospel, male, 29.
Others are Casmir Nnaemeka Akaa, male, 19, Mbagwu
Chukwudi Vitalis, male, 32 and Duru Ifeanyi Williams, male,
26.


Those charged for the alleged kidnap of Mrs. Magaret Umahi
are Edward Umuahi Onu, male, 25, David Akubunma, male,
27, Jude Ohamereze, male, 24, Chidiebere Nze, male, 23,
Maduabuchi Chikwado, male, 29 and Maduabuchi Emmanuel
Chidubem, male, 21. We shall continue to arrest them until
we they understand that Imo is a no go area for them.


What is pathetic about kidnapping nowadays is that children
organize the kidnapping of their relations. Take the case of
18 year old Chiaka Ozioma Ejiaku who, with her boyfriend,
organized the kidnapping of her own sister! People should
be ware of the company their children keep. You must be
ware of girls who lure men into hotels only to text their
accomplices about how to deal with them.


In 2010 government will continue to strengthen the
Operation Festival. In 2009, we acquired 5 Amoured
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Personnel Carriers to strengthen security in the state. In
2010, additional 5 APCs and other security equipment,
satellite facilities, Closed Circuit Television, Power Bikes and
training, will be procured. Government will also establish the
Imo State Security Fund. The Imo Vigilante will be
strengthened and re-focused for efficiency.


JOB CREATION
Ladies and gentlemen, our key objective remains to create
job opportunities for our youths. Getting our youths to be
gainfully employed will boost our economy and reduce crime
in the state. With effect from today, 4th January 2010, the
embargo on employment in the public sector is lifted.
Government will immediately recruit 10,000 fresh graduates
into the civil and teaching services of the state. The take off
of actual construction of the Imo Wonderlake Resort and
Conference Centre has a capacity to generate 5000 initial
construction jobs. The massive Housing construction and the
tourism industry are expected to absorb the rest.


In addition, this month we shall create additional 2,700 jobs
in the 27 local government areas by recruiting 100 casual
labourers in each of the local governments for cleaning our
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markets under ENTRACO. They will generated revenue from
which they will be paid. The Job Centre will continue with its
preparation of graduates for the job market at the Finishing
School. On 9 January 2009, 68 graduates of the Finishing
Schools passed out and all of them were instantly employed
that day. In line with our right-sizing policy, the Job Centre
will prepare existing workers for job switching.


Government is however studying the Reports on right-sizing
and down-sizing. From what we seen in the report,
government is paying about N400 million every month to
people who ought not be in the service, either because they
are working with forged certificate or they have doctored
their records. There are some civil servants whose records
show that they passed standard six at the age of one!
Government will take appropriate action after studying the
reports.


CONCLUSION
As I said much earlier, the major thrust of the New Face of
Imo is to lay a solid foundation for the transformation of our
state a model modern state. To that end we have created
the legal frameworks for the future. In 2008 I signed into
                                                              65


law, 11 Executive Bills. In 2009, I signed 16 Executive Bills
into law, while 18 are pending in the House of Assembly.
Again the transformative effects of these laws may not be
visible like roads, but ultimately every citizen will feel their
impact in his or her life. In the next two years, this state
would be able to hit the ground and run because we are
clearing the grounds and laying the foundation.


Dear citizens of Imo state, these are the highlights of our
achievements in the past year and our hopes for the New
Year. We are not perfect, nor have we achieved all we want
to do for this state. We may have made some mistakes, but
we are human. We have, however, shown an uncommon
determination to lift the standard of living of our people with
the New Face of Imo philosophy; we have remained
focused because as the Holy Bible said in Ecclesiastes 11:4,
“He who observes the wind will not sow, and he who
regards the cloud will not reap”.


I can not end this account without touching on the nature of
politics and the character of leadership in Imo state. Why is
there so much desperation for power? Why can we not have
                                                             66


disciplined leadership in all the political parties? Why can we
not have an inclusive, participatory and transparent electoral
process? At the end, who are the losers in this desperate
politics of do-or-die? I pose these questions because Imo
state belongs to all of us. We all stand to benefit from an
Imo that is transformed into a model modern state. While
we will always welcome constructive criticisms, visionary
policies and programmes will always prevail over the nay-
sayers!


For example, when we launched the Clean and Green
Initiative, we were not merely criticized. It was turned into
a matter of political mischief. But today, the entire world is
concerned about the environment and the climactic change,
thus vindicating our vision. The illegal structures we
destroyed opened up our cities. Traffic is now unimpeded.
Illegal structures no longer provide cover and habitation for
criminals. The destruction and obstruction of utility ways
have been removed. Market fires are less. Our people have
forgotten the initial pains of Clean and Green Initiative.
Everybody is proud of a cleaner Imo State.
                                                             67


When we decided to ban the commercial motor cyclists
(inaga), our opponents shouted that we were imposing
hardship on the poor masses. But today the people are
happier for it. If you go to the Federal Medical Centre, you
will notice a dramatic reduction in casualties from inaga.
There is a further reduction in crime in the state capital. The
commuters are more comfortable and safer in the tricycles,
come rain come sun and the fares are cheaper, N30 as
against N80 charged by inaga. There is more orderly traffic
movement in the state capital now. As evidence that people
have fully accepted the alternative, there is now a booming
business in buying and selling of tricycles.


When we banned the sale of water in sachets (“pure water”)
in Owerri metropolis, our opponents cried as if our people
cannot do without it. But today, NAFDAC has warned
Nigerians about the health hazards of “pure water”. So we
were proactive in saving the lives of our people. Our policies
may appear harsh at the onset or take long before delivery,
but at all time we have the interest of the majority of our
people at heart.
                                                           68


We shall continue to work hard for the people of Imo State
until we achieve our vision of a model modern state. All the
belt-tightening measures we put in place last year shall
remain in force as this period calls for more prudence from
all arms of government. To maximize our IGR collection, let
me emphasize that no MDA shall be allowed to collect
money, fees or fines for the Government. This means that
those of you who transact business with the government
must not pay to any individual or his agent. All government
revenues are now to be paid into designated accounts in
designated banks. We shall continue to streamline the
structure   of   our   government    for   more   efficiency,
transparency and accountability through total automation of
all processes.


I must mention that the state has been able to make a
remarkable progress in the past two and half years largely
owing to the cordial relationship among the Executive, the
Legislature and the Judiciary. This relationship anchored on
mutual respect and the principle of separation of powers will
continue to add value to the development of the state.
                                                             69


In the last one year, kidnapping has become a source of
nightmare and embarrassment for our people. Let me
appeal to our youths to shun such abominable act. It is
against our culture and values to abduct fellow human
beings for ransom. It is inhuman. It is worse than slavery.
The miscreants who perpetrate this atrocity come from
families, villages and communities. I call on all the
Traditional Rulers and Town Union leaders to help fish out
the criminals in their midst. Kidnapping has the dangerous
potential of driving away investors thus compounding the
problem of providing jobs for the youths. The youths in
every community have the responsibility to resist stranger
elements who come to violate the rights and humanity of the
elderly, women and children, in their communities, if
possible with their lives. They should take pride in protecting
our people, no matter the challenges they face. That is the
path of valour. That is the Igbo path of honour!


We, as government, shall face this challenge squarely and
will leave no stone unturned in the implementation of the
death penalty for kidnapping as provided by the law.
                                                              70


Ladies and gentlemen, the world has become increasingly
competitive. Imo state cannot live in isolation of the trends
in the global village. The world is faced by serious issues of
economic meltdown, climactic change, moral decadence and
youth deviance. We are not left out. There is an urgent need
to return to the path of rectitude. I therefore appeal to the
churches and all religious leaders to use their ecclesiastical
authority to direct our people, especially our youths, to the
path of rectitude. We want every voice to be heard
preaching peace, unity, love of one another and fear of God.
The church ought to be seen working in partnership with the
government to carter to the spiritual and temporal needs of
our people. The Church must encourage their members to
pay   their   taxes   and   rents   to   government    for   the
development of our state.


At the inception of this administration, we conceived the
New Face of Imo as a paradigm shift from all the old
tendencies that crippled progress in our state in the past.
Our determination is to uplift this state to a winning state.
Our youths must take pride in this state. Our children must
have faith in this state. Every Imo citizen must be able to lift
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his head high when we would have all worked for the
transformation of Imo into a model modern state. This
Government will always provide the vision. But it is our
collective responsibility to make Imo the state of our dream.


The challenges before us all are:
  1. Every Imo citizen to come home and invest, in spite of
     the problems
  2. Our people must return to their Igboness and, like
     Indians, create wealth from their circumstances instead
     of waiting for the government
  3. Everybody must return to farming and use the land God
     gave us freely. The Churches and Schools must lead in
     this. Every school must have a farm
  4. We must take issues of the environment seriously.
     Every community must embark on tree planting to
     avert erosion
  5. Our people must return to community self-help, now
     that we are bringing peace to the communities
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As I said elsewhere, those of us who are privileged to be
called to serve must never waver or dither. Imo, we must
remember, is eternally in the hands of God!


Thank you. I wish you all a happy and very prosperous New
Year!


Ikedi Ohakim
Governor, Imo state of Nigeria

				
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