These are not the best of times for the All Progressive Congress [APC] administration of Hope Uzodimma, the Governor of Imo State as a backlog of unpaid salaries and pension mount amidst an angry and grumbling state legislators. Information available to 247ureports.com obtained from a consortium of competent sources reveal the Government of Imo State may be in the deeper distress – beyond non-payment of salaries, pensions and angry State Assembly.
“Nothing like this has happened in the recent history of Imo State. Uzodimma is not in control. No single person is in charge. Four people are competing for who controls the affairs of the state – the Chief of Staff, the Attorney General, the Commissioner of Information and the Governor. ” This is according to a source conversant with the goings on within the Imo State Government in explaining that each of the four “can take decisions on their own”.
The source cited a recent broadcast by the Secretary to the State Government [SSG] assuring the protesting pensioners who had assembled at the government premises. The SSG had assured the Pensioners their monies were on the way – that arrangements have been made to clear all backlogs. On the evening of the same day, the Commissioner of Information mounted the podium to counter the SSG – stating that no arrangements have been made.
“Decisions reached by the Governor are often questioned and changed on the fly by either of the three”, the source continues. Adding that the present climate does auger well with the seeming chaotic structure of administration within the Uzodimma cabinet.
When the Senator Hope Uzodimma arrived the seat of Governor via the Supreme Court Judgment of January 4, 2020 which ousted Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, he was welcomed with apprehension by the general populace of Imo State but with open armed by the lawmakers – who had had earlier interaction with the Hope Uzodimma – and knew him for his ease with ‘sharing money’. The lawmakers saw his coming as open bazaar.
Shortly following the Supreme Court declaration, Governor Uzodimma held a closed door meeting with the entire lawmakers. The aim of the meeting was to reach a working face to face understanding. During the meeting Governor Uzodimma inquired of how the then Governor Ihedioha enumerated them – in addition to their base salaries. The lawmakers revealed Ihedioha paid each of them the sum of N500,000 monthly. To which, Uzodimma told them he will surpass the sum. He immediately released the sum of N150million to the Speaker of the Imo State Hose of Assembly which was shared to the lawmakers at N5million each – the Speaker kept the remainder. Twenty six  lawmakers attended the meeting.
After the initial cash bazaar of N150million, the lawmakers believed the bazaar will continue. It did not.
Uzodimma – not only failed to fulfill the promise of outmatching the N500,000 monthly to each lawmaker – he failed payment of salaries to the lawmakers. One lawmaker told 247ureports.com they have not been paid their base salary since March 2020.
The same holds for all political appointees. Like the lawmakers, they have only received only one salary since Uzodimma was sworn in as Governor of Imo State.
The recent ruckus amongst lawmakers where bottles were weaponized draws directly from the Governor’s inability to captain the ship.
It is recalled the APC lawmakers had gathered at the resident of the deputy speaker to air their views and grievances over the manner the Governor had promised and failed. During the meeting, Honorable Ngozi Obiefuna representing Isu constituency shared her displeasure with the manner the Speaker of the State Assembly had not impressed on the Governor over the situation of the lawmakers. While she was speaking, young lawmaker by the name Samuel Otibe representing Ahiazu Mbaise constituency – who was the personal driver to the former Commissioner of Education in Imo State – Onwumere. In a thuggish manner, Hon. Otibe rebuked Hon. Obiefuna for delegating blame to the Speaker. When another female lawmaker by name Hon. Uju Onwudiwe representing Njaba constituency intervened. Hon Otibe went straight for the wine bottle – and threw it at the direction of Hon. Onwudiwe. She dodged it – and the wine bottle smashed into pieces on the wall. Not satisfied, Hon. Otibe grabbed the wine glass on the table and aimed it at Hon. Onwudiwe. She ducked again and the wine glass smashed on the wall. This time, the flying pieces hit another lawmaker – Hon. Herculus Okolo representing Ohaji/Egbema constituency. He was hit on the wrist – and he bleed. The meeting ended abruptly.
With pensioners uncertain of their pensions, the civil servant uncertain of their salaries, the lawmakers at daggers drawn money, and with no infrastructural expenditure on going in Imo State, it begs the obvious question as to why the finances of the State has gone. “Is there a black hole eating up the money”.
The Chief Press Secretary, Ogwuike Nwachukwu was contacted regarding the inability of the Governor to coordinate the payment of salaries, pensions, promises – or any developmental projects. He did not respond.