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Why We’re borrowing N40b

Posted by By VAL OKARA, Owerri on 2008/07/24 | Views: 1807 |

Why We’re borrowing N40b


Imo state commissioner for Information and Strategy, Chief Chuma Nnaji has dismissed critics who had described the one year in office of Chief Ikedi Ohakim administration as a media hype and colossal failure , saying that they are pocket of critics that do not reasons beyond their nose.

Imo state commissioner for Information and Strategy, Chief Chuma Nnaji has dismissed critics who had described the one year in office of Chief Ikedi Ohakim administration as a media hype and colossal failure , saying that they are pocket of critics that do not reasons beyond their nose. He said that they were acting out of ignorance.

Chuma , a two –time deputy speaker of the State House of Assembly between 1999 to 2007, said that criticizing Ohakim’s administration are those who were not in touch with the current realities in the state especially the Clean and Green Initiative of the present government.

Critics have described one year in office of Governor Ikedi Ohakim as a colossal failure .
Well, I don’t know what they mean by colossal failure when a governor was adjudged the best governor in the federation after seven months and their assessment and judgment were based on a very well known research, so if somebody will come up after one year and said that a governor that won the prestigious " This Day Award’ for 2007 is a colossal failure that must be a mischievous statement. What do you call failure .

Is it failure in which department. Is it failure in the construction of roads. We have commissioned about 32 roads and they are all there for everybody to see that cut across all parts of the state. Is it failure in tackling the problems in education sector. We are the first state to have our education summit where issues of decaying nature of education in the state was identified. We are about going to look for N50 billion to start addressing the problems of education based on the result of that summit. A sector that we have constructed about 33 multi-purpose classroom blocks in various local governments.

We are the first state to even distribute our fertilizer to farmers. We have distributed over close to 50 tractors since we came into government. We have given our farmers a new boost through our agricultural revolution. We have almost concluded negotiation with the South African farmers who are coming here to be partners in revolutionalizing our agricultural sector. I don’t know what people mean by failure. Is it failure in the health sector? We are the first state in less than five months when this administration came into power, we brought in medical teams from the United states, and about three of them have come and gone.

They performed close to 200 surgical operations and gave life to many of our people that could have died. We have commissioned a lot of health centres in the various local governments . We have given free medical treatments to people 0 – 12 years and pregnant women . I don’t know what people mean by failure. Look at our star project "the Clean and Green Initiative " and see what we were able to achieve there. Today, so many states in the federation are coming to Imo state to copy how we have packaged our Clean and Green project. It is becoming a reference point for so many people. Look at our environment , by the time we started people said it was an Owerri affairs. We have now moved it to all the 27 local government councils and all of them have bought into Clean and Green policy of this administration.

Our local governments are now cleaner than they used to be. You can see how beautiful our local governments are. This government has made it possible for each local government to have a dump site for the collection of refuge. This government through the State House of Assembly passed the Environmental law that will enable us to give a very strong impetus to what we are doing in the environment . Is it failure for us to have Owerri cleaner than what it was before, and most people now come to Owerri at weekends. If you look at our hotels from Thursday to Monday they rare fully booked.

If nothing is happening in Owerri people will not come. We have made this place a tourist and entertainment centre. This state hosted the most successful Nigerian Music Award pageant and it is the talk of the town. I don’t know what people mean by failure . Governor Ikedi Ohakim has been most creative in all the things he has been doing . I think it is just a pocket of critics that don’t reason beyond their environment or those critics in Lagos and Abuja that have not come home for sometime now. They are the people that are saying all these things, not people that lived in Imo state. It is not possible for any person to say that the last one year has been a failure .

Governor Ohakim’s trip to abroad
For every business venture even as a private investment or government there are periods of gestations in business. As I am talking to you, in the last one year, we have signed a few Memorandum of Understanding and these things are understandings that will commence with proper foundation . You don’t sign Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and the thing starts showcasing. We are telling Imo people that by the time these investors start putting things on the ground the critics will eat their words. There are so many things this government and they don’t start in one day . It is one thing at a time. One or two years is not even enough. We are talking about bilateral agreements. We are talking about agreements that are offshore. We are talking about cross border business.

There are legal documents and bilateral exchange of operational framework before things could take off . They should not be in a hurry like some of the business the state had embarked upon before which was hurriedly packaged and we want to be very careful so if this administration leaves whoever is succeeding it you will be able to have documents that will give a clear indication of what the government did with various business partners. It is not a question of you plant today, you reap tomorrow , it is not , business has gestation period.

Why did Imo State government go for N40 billion bond?
I just told you that experts have already given us the figure said that we need about N50billion for our education to really come on stream in line with the New Face of Imo. The kind of educational facilities and infrastructure we want to put on ground is such that need about N50billion. Just two weeks ago we launched the Education Trust Committee headed by Owelle Rochas Okorocha and they have taken off . The next stage now is to launch the fund proper. We are taken our time and even the N40 billion loan we are talking about is nothing to talk about. We are having an ambitious programme like Oguta Wonder Lake Resort which is about N60 billion to start with .

The N40 billion is just a bridge financial facility to enable us show that we can also raise some of these monies by ourselves. The N40 billion loan is nothing compared to what this state needs . There is nothing that prevents this administration from taking loans provided all the conditions given to you to get that loan are fulfilled. And , there is nothing like free launch anywhere. If you go historically, you will find out that starting from the time of Dr Nnamdi Azikwe to Dr Michael Okpara and uptil even the time when Imo State was created, states governments have always been taken loans, there is nothing wrong with loans . There is no bank in the country that will not have all the indices correct before dishing out loans except that the bank wants to be grounded and of course, the Central Bank was also there to know all the conditionalities for any draw down on any loan that packaged by banks. It is not a free launch for anybody.

The state government must have known where it is going and the implications of the loan . People are little ignorant about these things. The state government must have known where it is going and the implications of the loans . People are little ignorant about these things, it is not a question of Imo state government walking into any of the banks to take loan, so many people are involved in this loan. The Nigerian security Exchange commission (NSEC) , Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), the Federal Government, the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Banks were all involved in the arrangement .
Infact, members of the State House of Assembly have their own reach.

They have tested it and brought in consultants to brief them on this N40billion loan and they found it very contemporaneous to do. No state in this country can make do only with the money coming from the federation account and as a federating unit of the Federal Republic of Nigeria there is nowhere in our constitution that says that states should not borrow money, you can borrow money provided that all the financial indices that will enable you to get the money and pay back are well understood and agreed by the parties .

The talk over it (loan) is because of lack of understanding of the financial language . The loan itself is eight – year tenured loan and the rate of repayment is also there. The people have to see the figure behind the figures before they start talking about such delicate financial matters. It is not everybody that can have commentary on it, you must be a professional to understand it. The Ikedi Ohakim has done all his home work and we have taking this loan to assist in building infrastructure in the state.
Understanding between the state legislators and Executive has been misconstrued by some members of the public as the lawmakers had comprised her constitutional responsibilities ?

The impression also borders on ignorance . I was in the House for eight years and this was exactly what they said of us when we were collaborating with the former governor, Chief Achike Udenwa to make sure that this state is ran on very conducive atmosphere so that progress and tranquility will reign. Now, they are saying the same thing of this House of Assembly , with all humility this House of Assembly is an improvement on the last eight years. The House is disciplined. Look at a House that has 26 members out of 27 coming from one political extraction , the PDP and with the governor coming from PPA . It requires a lot of discipline for such a House to collaborate with the chief Executive that is not from their party and we have seen what is happening in other states of the federation . And some of these states where they were quarrelling they have PDP governor and PDP majority in the House. But, for people to take this House (Imo) as a rubber stamp is most unfortunate .

I think again that a lot of people are disappointed for what is coming out from the Imo State House of Assembly and because they are disappointed they want to play it up in such a way as to ginger the members to do what they don’t want to do but unfortunately, the House of Assembly as I have seen it are made up of young men and women who have made up their minds to partner with this administration because at the beginning of this administration , the first port of call of the governor was at the House of Assembly . This administration took pains to let the House see where it is going , so it is a joint agreement between the House and the government .

We remember the famous Obodu Agreement , the House went for a retreat and the governor carefully and methodically showed them where his government wants to navigate the ship of state to and they all bought into it. What we are seeing today is the operationalization of that understanding . It is not magical because they are part of it even before government opens its mouths to make pronouncement the House of Assembly already knows about it because it is a partnership built on mutual understanding . It is a partnership that is not built on deceit .

When you built a partnership on a deceit it crumbles easily but this one is a well packaged understanding that this state must move forward, that Imo citizens and electorate deserve better deal that we can also compete within the federating units of the federation. It is an agreement which the House of Assembly is part of , it is never a sell out because nothing is there to sell out. If you are part of the household, you should understand all the corners of the house. What we are seeing today is a perfect blend of people that want to take Imo state to the next level.

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