Governor Emeka Ihedioha of Imo State says Rochas Okorocha destroyed the state before running to the senate.

Governor Emeka Ihedioha of Imo State has disclosed that when he took over from Owelle Rochas Okorocha as Governor of Imo State in May of 2019, he met an abandoned and neglected state secretariat powered by different hues and contraptions of small generators, popularly referred to as ‘I better pass my neighbour’ in Nigerian parlance.

Ihedioha made the revelation during an interactive session with online journalists in his residence in Owerri, the Imo State capital, on Tuesday, July 9, 2019.

“I didn’t understand the depth of the rot Okorocha left behind until I assumed office. There were only 4 cars left in government house when I visited the place to start work. Two of these cars had faulty air-conditioning systems. I met a state that was very much run down.

“When I visited the state secretariat, I saw different types of ‘I better pass my neighbor generators’ chained together. There had been no public power supply at the state secretariat for 8 years. Everywhere was leaking. But my predecessor was always on AIT and ChannelsTV saying he was performing. It is the height of wickedness!”, Ihedioha lamented.

Rochas Okorocha won election to represent Imo in the senate (Punch)
Rochas Okorocha won election to represent Imo in the senate (Punch)

Ihedioha also alleged that Okorocha had sold state assets to himself, family and cronies during his 8-year stint as Imo governor.

“He concessioned state assets to himself. My immediate task is to begin to restore public confidence in governance and bring back our state assets”, Ihedioha said.

Closing bank accounts, introducing TSA

The governor also announced the closure of over 250 bank accounts with which Okorocha ran the state and the flag off of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) in Imo; in line with his resolve to usher an era of probity and accountability in the public service.

“The past administration operated the state revenue with over 250 bank accounts. The report from the Imo State Financial Advisory Committee (FAC) revealed that Ministries, Departments and Agencies maintained and operated different revenue accounts, some in pseudo names.

"Also, payments to contractors and statutory bodies were made in cash. It is against this background that the FAC urgently worked on streamlining revenue processes.

“Today’s take-off of the TSA in Imo State is in compliance with the provisions of the Nigerian constitution, requiring all accruable revenues to be paid into a consolidated revenue account. 

Emeka Ihedioha has promised a dispensation of probity and accountability in the affairs of Imo State (Premium Times)
Emeka Ihedioha has promised a dispensation of probity and accountability in the affairs of Imo State (Premium Times)

“The essence of the executive order is to apply the TSA as an instrument of transformation and ease of doing business. Imo State by the World Bank 2018 Ease of Doing Business in Nigeria report, is ranked 34 out of 36 states of the federation. A very poor standing indeed. 

“The introduction of the TSA signals a trajectory of transformation and a major turning point in the decision and commitment of the government of Imo State to provide a strong economy and healthy society and a new Imo characterised by excellence, equality, meritocracy, integrity, incorruptibility, diligence and compliance with the rule of law”.

A controversial election

A former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ihedioha (PDP) polled 273,404 votes to emerge winner of the March 10 governorship election in Imo State.

Ihedioha defeated 69 other candidates including his closest rival, Uche Nwosu of Action Alliance who scored 190,364 votes.

Nwosu was the handpicked candidate and son-in-law of Okorocha.

Rochas Okorocha is a former Governor of Imo State (TheCable)
Rochas Okorocha is a former Governor of Imo State (TheCable)

Okorocha won a controversial senatorial election and was only recently handed a certificate of return after the electoral commission made it clear that the Imo West senatorial election result was announced under duress.

Ihedioha told journalists during the interactive session that he has decided not to play politics as governor and would rather focus on rebuilding an Imo state which he said Okorocha completely destroyed. 

Senator Okorocha wasn't immediately available for comments for this story.