The Imo State government has deferred the resumption of schools till an ongoing Covid-19 testing programme in all the 27 local government areas of the state is concluded.
Also, all task forces operating under whatever guise in Imo State have been banned by the government just as it has stopped the sale of emblems across the nooks and crannies of Imo by those who either masquerade as task forces or consultants.
Consequently, those who would want to test the will of government will have themselves to blame as plans to constitute a security outfit that will go after recalcitrant persons will soon be unveiled.
Rising from her Wednesday, September 23 2020 Executive Council Meeting presided over by Governor Hope Uzodimma, the Government told newsmen at a media briefing that Task Forces have been constituting a nuisance to the government and people of the state.
“There is nothing like Owerri Capital Development Authority (OCDA) Task Force, Emblem collection Task Force, and Revenue Task Forces on the street of Owerri Municipal anymore,” the Commissioner for Information, Declan Emelumba who was joined by the Commissioner for Transportation, Barr. Rex Anunobi; Commissioner for Finance, Chuck Chuckemeka; Chief Press Secretary/Media Adviser to the Governor, Oguwike Nwachuku and the Special Adviser to the Governor on Internal Revenue, Lawrence Chukwuemeka Nwodu said.
Emelumba also said the Exco resolved that there is no more Consultancy of any sort involving Ministry, Department and Agency (MDA), and that all MDAs are directed to submit their revenue heads to the Board of Internal Revenue (BIR). This means that only BIR is authorized to collect revenue for Imo State Government henceforth.
To ensure full compliance with regard to the ban on the task forces, the government said it has concluded arrangement to constitute security monitoring and enforcement team to ensure that all concerned comply with the above directives.
Emelumba noted that the Executive Council has received report on the Community testing for Covid-19 in six Local Government Areas of the State and discovered that out of over 1,000 tested only 24 were found to be positive. He said that Imo State is one of the nine States in the Federation that have embarked on the Community Testing.
The consequence the ongoing Community Testing Programme in Imo State, he said, will reflect on the planned resumption of schools as that had been delayed for a while to enable the testing go round in all the councils in the state.
The commissioner revealed that because of the prudent management of resources in Imo State by the current administration, the State has qualified to benefit from the State Fiscal Transparency and Accountability Sustenance (SFTAS) which guarantees her a whooping sum of $20million for 2020.
He emphasized that because of the inability of the State to meet up with the criteria set by the World Bank Imo was not able to receive the disbursement for 2018 and 2019.
Furthermore, he informed that Imo State Government has concluded plans to establish brand new model primary schools in the 305 Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) wards of the State.
According to him, the schools when established will be equipped with modern facilities such as ICT centre, E-Library, Primary Healthcare Centres, 24 hours power supply, modern sporting facilities and other facilities that will make them comparable to any of their type in any part of the world.
The Commissioner rounded off his address by informing that the Imo State Ministry of Gender and Vulnerable Groups has been changed to Ministry of Women Affairs to reflect what is obtainable at the Federal Government Level and many other States of the Federation.
Expatiating on some of the issues, the Commissioner for Finance Chuck Chuckemeka elaborated that the model primary schools will be established in communities where there are none in existence or where the Primary Schools are dilapidated and beyond repairs.
On why Imo did not benefit from the disbursement of SFTAS money for 2018 and 2019, he said that the Government of Hope Uzodimma was not on seat then and that the Government of Emeka Ihedioha was not able to meet up with the demands and criteria set by the body which emphasized preparation and publishing of State financial statements as a reflection of due process and good governance.
Chuckemeka said the good news is that with resilience of the current administration, Imo has been assessed and qualified for that of 2020 that will be disbursed in 2021.
On the issue of ban on consultancy and revenue collection by MDAs Chukwuemeka added that the decision was as a result of revenue leakages that have contributed in no small measure to dwindling Internally Generated Revenue of the State.