Governor Ihedioha inaugurates Visitation Panels to IMSU, IMSUTH, others

Governor Ihedioha inaugurates Visitation Panels to IMSU, IMSUTH, others

 … Unveils plan to upgrade four general hospitals to specialists hospitals
 … Harps on total transformation of state

Imo State Governor, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha CON, has reinstated his administration’s commitment towards transforming the state.

The governor further disclosed that his administration would not lend itself to the “whims and caprices of personal discretion”, noting that the, “greater good of the people of the state, would at all times take priority position”.

This is as he disclosed plans to upgrade the General Hospitals in Orlu, Okigwe, Aboh Mbaise and Awo Omamma Council areas into the status of specialist hospitals in specific areas of medical specialization.

The Governor stated this at the inauguration of the visitation panels to Imo State University, Imo State Teaching Hospital, Imo State Polytechnic and the Board Imo State Hospitals Management, held at Expanded Executive Council Chambers, Government House, Owerri on Wednesday.

He said the constitution of the panels were neither to probe nor witch-hunt anybody but a necessity to enhance the quality of education and health care delivery as well as ensure overall growth and development of the state.

He said, “at the inception of this administration, we were inundated with plethora of complaints on education sector in the state, especially at the tertiary level. And as a responsive government, we felt that we would be abdicating our obligation to the people, if we do not look into these complaints.

“For these reasons, we deemed it necessary to respond to these hues and cries by looking into the operations of these critical institutions.”

He continued, “The setting up of these Institutions’ Visitation Panels is in furtherance of our mission to rebuild our educational institutions. By these, we hope to achieve effective governance institutions as well as strengthen educational services delivery and processes in these tertiary institutions.Today, therefore, we are inaugurating the visitation panels to these Imo State flagship institutions of higher learning to salvage them from sliding down the precipice of total collapse.”

On the choice of non-indigenes as members of the Visitation Panels, the governor said, “we had to go outside the state to choose some members. This is with a view to ensuring impartiality in the considerations of the issues that would be brought before them”.

Governor Ihedioha pointed out that the terms of reference of the panels include, “to identify the strength and problems of the institutions and make appropriate recommendations to the visitor; ascertain the operations of various departments and units; look into cases of procurement and complaints bordering on cliqueism and cultism in the institutions; investigate students’ complaints on various issues as well as conduct internal audits on institutions’ finances.”

On the Hospitals Management Board, the governor said, “The health sector was not spared the pervasive rot, hence the need to constitute the board to carry out intended reforms, with a view to ensuring peak performance at the various state owned health institutions”.

“Upon assumption of office, we brought to Imolites a report on the state of affairs in our institutions and agencies. For instance, of the 19 General Hospitals under Imo State network of health services, only 10 were still in operation. Of these 10, only 4 were offering reasonable services. All of them were suffering from lack of modern hospital equipment, moribund processes and demoralized staff.

“Consequently, in the Budget for next year, we have in focus the complete overhaul of all these health institutions. The four General hospitals in Orlu, Okigwe, Aboh Mbaise and Awo Omamma (Oru East LGA), would be upgraded into the status of specialist hospitals in specific areas of specialization.”

He described as “noble and revered personalities”, members of the panels and expressed confidence that they would bring their wealth of experience and expertise to bear on their assignments without fear or favour for the good of the state.

Responding, Chairman of the Hospitals Management Board and former Deputy Governor of Imo State, Dr. Douglas Acholonu, who spoke on behalf of the members of his board, thanked the governor for the confidence reposed in them to serve and promised that they will “discharge their duties with a high sense of responsibility”.

In his response on behalf of the Visitation Panels, Prof. Chinedu Nebo said, “we will not disappoint the people of Imo State on this assignment. We will do our best and as the governor has said, it is neither a probe nor a witch-hunt but for the overall good of the people.

Prof. Nebo, a former Vice Chancellor of the University of Nigeria and former Minister for Power and Energy further disclosed that Governor Ihedioha is on the right track towards fixing the various critical institutions of the state

Ihitte Uboma monarch sup thumb Ihedioha for reconstruction of Owerri – Obowo road

Ihitte Uboma monarch sup thumb Ihedioha for reconstruction of Owerri – Obowo road

The people of Ihitte Uboma Local Government Area and their royal fathers have expressed joy over the ongoing reconstruction and rehabilitation of the Owerri – Obowo road.

The road, a major Trunk A federal highway, is presently undergoing major rehabilitation following the award of contract by the state government.

The Chairman of Ihitte Uboma Council of Traditional Rulers, Eze Innocent Onuoha, disclosed this during a courtesy visit to Governor Emeka Ihedioha at the Government House, Owerri.

He thanked the governor for appointing their sons as Commissioner for Finance and Principal Secretary. He expressed their appreciation for the award of contract for the reconstruction of the Owerri-Obowo road and pledged their loyalty and cooperation to the government.

Photo: L-R: Imo State Governor, Emeka Ihedioha; HRH Eze Emeka Ogbenna; Chairman of Ihitte Uboma Council of Traditional Rulers, Eze Innocent Onuoha; Principal Secretary to the Governor, Theodore Nwokonkwo; Commissioner for Finance, Uche Uwaleke; Mmeber representing Ihitte Uboma in the Imo State House of Assembly, Michael Onyemechi; Chairman, Interim Management Committee, Ihitte Uboma LGA, Maureen Onyekele at the Government House during a courtesy call by Traditional Rulers of Ihitte Uboma LGA, Wednesday.

Photo: L-R: Imo State Governor, Emeka Ihedioha; HRH Eze Emeka Ogbenna; Chairman of Ihitte Uboma Council of Traditional Rulers, Eze Innocent Onuoha; Principal Secretary to the Governor, Theodore Nwokonkwo; Commissioner for Finance, Uche Uwaleke; Mmeber representing Ihitte Uboma in the Imo State House of Assembly, Michael Onyemechi; Chairman, Interim Management Committee, Ihitte Uboma LGA, Maureen Onyekele at the Government House during a courtesy call by Traditional Rulers of Ihitte Uboma LGA, Wednesday.

Also, the state Commissioner of Finance, Prof. Uche Uwaleke, who led the delegation, noted that the visit was to assure the governor that Ihitte Uboma people were with him and would continue to support him in rebuilding the state.

The governor urged them to continue to foster peace and security in their area.

While recalling that as a lawmaker, he facilitated the award of the construction of Isinweke – Onicha Uboma – Okigwe road at the cost of N5 billion, he assured that his administration would continue to make life meaningful for the people of the area.

The gesture he said, was in line with the state government genuine interest in the well being of the people of the area who are well-known farmers.

The governor pointed out that the area was the food basket of the state and enjoined the people to collaborate with the government by providing land for rice cultivation, adding that government would only use the land for agriculture to ensuring food security for the state.

Ihedioha’s Initiatives Improving Ease of Doing Business in South East

Ihedioha’s Initiatives Improving Ease of Doing Business in South East

By Remi Emeka Njoku

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, was recently recorded as having improved its ranking on the latest World Bank Ease of Doing Business index.

The country now ranks 131 on the World Bank’s Doing Business 2020 index, released Wednesday, October 23, 2019. The country moved up 15 places from its 2019 spot and has been tagged as one of the most improved economies in the world for running a business.

The index is a yearly ranking that assesses the business environment in 190 countries using various indicators including paying taxes, trading across borders, starting a business and protecting minority investors.The new rank is a major improvement from last year’s business.

The ease of doing business may be better, but the actual process of running a business has been stifled as a result of these counterproductive policies and other environmental factors prevalent across the nation.
In 2016, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, set up a government organization – the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) with the aim of minimizing the constraints that come with running businesses in the country.

The organization put together reforms geared toward making it more convenient for business owners to thrive.
Some of them include cutting down the time it takes to register a business, new grid connections for electricity and upgrading election systems for imports and exports.

It is however a known fact that Nigeria’s business environment despite its prospects, is characterised by challenges of various kinds, which range from lack of infrastructures such as poor electricity supply, bad and poor road network, insecurity, multiple tax system, multiple tax system, inadequate financial services, corruption and many others.

These challenges apart from stifling businesses have also continued to retard all facets of growth and development of the states. Many cities across the country that were noted for vast industrial productions such as Aba in Abia State; Onitsha and Nnewi in Anambra State; – are today a shadow of their past as a result of these environmental challenges.

In the South East region, a few of the state Governors have started to display avowed commitment towards delivering sustainable economic growth and improvement of businesses across the region.

One of such governors is the current governor of Imo State, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha CON. Barely six months in office as the state governor, Ihedioha has rolled out great Ease of Doing Business initiatives in Imo State.
Addressing the South East Regional Engagement of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council, on Ease of Doing Business, hosted by the Imo State Government at Imo Concorde Hotel, Owerri on Thursday, November 7, 2019, Ihedioha outlined the economic potentials of the state to include a well-developed hospitality infrastructure and culture; Oil Palm, which has remained one of the most important cash crops in the region, that could serve again as a major driver for the economic development of the region; and a high inflow of diaspora remittances.

“Consequently,” he stated, “we have set up an Office on Diaspora Matters under the Governor’s Office. As you are aware, Diaspora remittances recently was estimated at $25bn nationally. It is a known fact that South East immigrants contribute over 50 per cent of this amount and we estimate that Imo State constitutes over 40 per cent of this number with its nearly 1.2 million Diaspora population. Many are already reaching out to the Governor’s Office on Diaspora Matters with investment proposals in response to our “Rebuild Imo” Agenda.”

He revealed that, “With a committed government, certainly these are great assets that propel us to embark on Ease of Doing Business initiatives.”

“Consequently, we have rolled out one of the most ambitious infrastructural reconstruction projects ever witnessed since after the civil war. Works have commenced on 14 critical roads across the State Capital and the three Federal roads that leads to Orlu, Okigwe and Obowu. All are with completion targets ranging from three to eighteen months.”

He has also flagged off a massive rural roads construction projects totalling a distance of 380.7 kilometres across the 27 local governments of the State. The projects valued at a total of N13.5 billion and are being financed in partnership with the World Bank under its Rural Access and Mobility Project (RAMP).

In further display of commitment towards improving Ease of Doing Business, the Imo State Governor noted, “The need for Ease of Doing Business, indeed cannot be overemphasized. In an era when government alone cannot provide all the jobs for its citizens, the least it can do is to provide the necessary enabling environments for our youths to create their own businesses and thrive.”

“In the same vein, mutual cooperation is the order of the day, and no nation or region is an island on itself. In the past, economic nationalism and isolationism made sense. Today the rule is “connect or perish.” Prosperity of nation-states are now intertwined. You cannot, therefore, walk alone,” he went further to state.

Just last week, Ihedioha was part of the delegation of Nigerian Governors’ Forum to a summit on Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) organized by the Turkish Ministry of Trade and its Foreign Economic Relations Board. The Summit which was attended by World Bank officials, centred on how to boost PPP as a means of attracting Foreign Direct Investment. In their discussions, he made it known to them that Imo State is open for business.

“We cannot, therefore, give such global assurances and return to create bottlenecks to the same investments we very much desire,” he emphasised.

At the inception of his administration, he put in place policies to provide sustainable enabling environment to attract and protect Foreign Direct Investments. He created an Imo State Investment Promotion Agency, IMSEPA, with the mandate for investment promotion and entrepreneurship development. In addition, he has an Ease of Doing Business Desk in the Governor’s Office (his office).

We have also designed a PPP comprehensive strategy to partner with interested investors under various models which include: Equity Participation, Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) and Build Operate, Own and Transfer (BOOT) models. In this direction, a law is being enacted to make the Imo investment environment more responsive to businesses. This also includes an Infrastructure Regulatory Agency to protect investors in this sector.

Currently, the state is working with a global consulting firm – the CSPS Transcom to put together an integrated investment plan designed to transform the State into one of the top three most developed state economies in Nigeria by 2025.

Governor Ihedioha’s efforts are already yielding results. It is worthy of note that The AfrExim Bank, is currently working to establish its Investment Centre for the South East and South-South Zones in Owerri. The regional financial institution is set to invest $50 million (N18 Billion) in Imo State in its proposed Quality Assurance Facility. Upon completion, it would provide certification and inspection services for various export products from the catchment area. It would also provide capacity building to industrialists, generate employments and bolster economic activities in the regions.

“Imo State is open for business and I therefore, urge all willing investors to take advantage of the enabling environment we are creating. You have to strike when the iron is hot,” he appealed.

Governor Ihedioha Condoles Muslims in Imo Over Death of Chief Imam

Governor Ihedioha Condoles Muslims in Imo Over Death of Chief Imam

Governor Emeka Ihedioha CON, has commiserated with Muslims in the state on the death of Chief Imam, Alhaji Dauda Anozie Onyeagocha, who passed in the early hours of Tuesday.

He described Alhaji Onyeagocha as a peace loving leader who placed premium on the virtues of love and tolerance.

Governor Ihedioha noted that the late Chief Imam, a native of Amawom community in Owerri Municipal Local Government Area of Imo State, was a detribalized Nigerian, a bridge-builder, who contributed immensely to the peaceful co-existence of adherents of Islam and Christianity in the state.

While praying for the peaceful repose of his soul, the governor urged Muslims and all those who are saddened at his exit to bear the loss with fortitude and continue to imbibe his worthy legacies.

Taking development to the grassroots – The Ihedioha way

Taking development to the grassroots – The Ihedioha way

By Okwudili Ojukwu-Enendu

A journey always seems much easier following a man that knows the way. The man of ideas will always have the competitive edge. Ideas rule the world.

These were the thoughts that assailed my mind as I reviewed Governor Emeka Ihedioha’s tour of local governments to inspect works being undertaken by local government chairman. It struck me that Ihedioha would be a man of history, positive history.

Till date, any mention of Cross River State throws up the name, Donald Duke. This is the 12th year since he vacated office as the governor of the state after two terms. Yet, he is still remembered as though he were still there in office. The landmarks he left behind make him a man of history.

This very week, the current governor of the state, Prof  Ben Ayade personally flagged off the dry-run for this year’s Calabar Carnival. It is one of the twin legacy projects of Duke. Right out of the blues, he instituted it and got it into the global tourism calendar and it remains a major Nigerian event more than a decade after his exit. That is the intangible legacy.

The other legacy of Duke is the Tinapa Resort and Free Trade Zone. It is a beauty to behold and a product of a sound mind meant to yield revenue to both operators and the government. The fact that the government of Nigeria has blocked this wonderful pointer to Nigeria’s desired future does not diminish the vision that inspired it or the master-craft that moulded it. Its continued official blockade simply amplifies the perception and reality of different levels of ‘Nigerianness’. Tell me that if this edifice were in Minna or Kano, the Federal Government will block it!

My main interest here though, is how this project was realized. In the last few months of Duke in office, he invited a number of editors to Calabar and showed us some of his projects, including Tinapa. I walked close to him and asked him how much the project cost and he said N50bn (a lot back in 2007). Then I asked him how much his government contributed to that. He said N5bn – just 10% of the project cost! He explained that this contribution was in the form of basic infrastructure – basically creating the water channel and the port, as well as access roads.

I marveled. Such smartness! There, he has a legacy that will stand for a very long time, and he didn’t bleed his state to realize that. He understood the concept of leverage and applied that. Finish!

Now, back to Imo State. Governor Ihedioha is showing smartness of another kind and the outcome will stamp his name in the annals of the state. A few months ago, he ordered the local government caretaker committee chairpersons to embark on at least two physical projects. He insisted that one of them must be a mini-stadium.

I don’t know who remembers any local government in the country doing anything with its funds apart from paying salaries, with huge backlogs owed. Out of the blues, Ihedioha ordered them to embark on physical projects, and three months later, he actually went inspecting.

The surprise was that all of these local government chairmen actually got started and by the time the governor came visiting, many had taken the building of brand new secretariat buildings to the decking level! The extant secretariat buildings had been built over 30 years ago and many of them are in poor state. Who believed that these LGs can, by themselves build befitting secretariats? They have also advanced work on the mini-stadia too. If these LG chairmen maintain the current pace of work, then these secretariats could be commissioned within one year.

Something struck me here. Anybody interested in how Nigeria is governed knows that state governments bully and gobble up much of the local government funds illegally. But Imo, right now seems to be bucking the trend. Otherwise, the governor wouldn’t have had the boldness to make this demand of the local government chairpersons. And if he was brazen enough to demand that, the local government heads would have looked him in the face and asked him where the funds for those were.

Now, see how it all kicks in and the picture it creates. Imo has 27 local government areas. If all of them complete two physical projects in a year, that would mean some 54 physical projects that Ihedioha will commission for them in a year. If he succeeds in getting them do this in three out of his four-year tenor, tell me if Ihedioha won’t be considered a super performer?

Add to this, the 380km of rural roads that he has flagged off across all 27 local government areas at a cost of N13bn, and it becomes clearer that Imo State is in for a wholesale change.

Of great interest to me is not just what Governor Ihedioha is doing, but how he does them. The road project is being executed under the World Bank’s Rural Access and Mobility Project (RAMP) – meaning the deployment of low cost patient capital. Then there is the N9.2bn erosion control project at Urualla, again with massive support from the World Bank’s cheap patient capital pool. Ihedioha contributed just N500m to this project and the rest of the funding came from the World Bank – over 18 times leverage!

A thinking head has certainly come to Douglas House!

Ojukwu-Enendu  writes from Lagos.

Why Imo is Joining OGP- Ihedioha

Why Imo is Joining OGP- Ihedioha

…Says, Era of Secrecy in Governance Over

Governor of Imo State, Chief Emeka Ihedioha says the state Government applied to join the Open Government Partnership as one of the ways of entrenching transparency in public service.

Governor Ihedioha who gave the explanation while receiving a delegation of the British High Commission to Nigeria, Tuesday, listed other governance reforms initiatives introduced by his administration to mainstream accountability in governance.

Represented by the Deputy Governor, Engr. Gerald Irona, the Governor described Imo as an investment-friendly state, reiterating the commitment of his administration to partner international organizations in ensuring good governance in the state.

Photo: Members of the British High Commission delegation posing for a group photograph with the Deputy Governor and other top Govt. functionaries

“In Imo State, we are highly enterprising people and we are investor-friendly. We have very huge potentials in tourism, agriculture and education. We inherited a state with decayed infrastructure and poor morale of citizens, occasioned by poor governance. Pensioners were owed for over eighty months and the Governor has now started paying. Governor Emeka Ihedioha has taken steps towards restoring public confidence in governance, with rule of law as a cardinal principle. We met an Internally Generated Revenue- IGR base of N258m monthly. His Excellency introduced reforms to entrench transparency and accountability in governance. Through Order 005, the Treasury Single Account -TSA was introduced and as a result, so many leakages in revenue have been blocked. Last month, we generated over N800m, as against N258m that we inherited as IGR.”

“We are implementing the IPPC accounting standards. We have applied to join the Open Government Partnership-OGP, as one of our transparency initiatives. We are opening up the government for citizens’ scrutiny and participation. We have opened an Efficiency Unit in the Ministry of Finance, with a view to reducing the cost of governance. We are investment-friendly and the Governor has set up a desk for ease of doing business in the state. We seek investments in the areas of Power, Agriculture and Tourism. Imo State is willing and ready to partner with the DFID.”

Earlier in her presentation, British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing said they were in the state to identify areas of possible support through the Department for International Development.

“We are in your state to get a better understanding of what is on the ground, with a view to knowing how we can support governance in Imo State. We have programmes that will be beneficial to you. We also wish to understand the challenges you are facing in the state.”