Imo: Ihedioha did not lose, justice did

Imo: Ihedioha did not lose, justice did

Not so long ago, one of the greatest and most influential African-Americans in history, Malcolm X, uttered a touching quote and each time I look at the turn of events in the Imo governorship tussle, it easily flows through my mind. Even though the quote was made over 50 years ago, its relevance to the travesty served on the people of Imo state is unquantifiable.

The quote goes thus: “I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I’m a human being, first and foremost, and as such I’m for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.”

Quite profound and that explains my disappointment with the manner in which the leadership of Imo state has been decided for the next four years.

If the trend of events that throw up Hope Uzodinma as governor is holistically examined, it’s so obvious that truth and justice were debasingly raped. That is the simple inference any objective mind would make from the entire episode. It is something that should never happen, not to talk of this digital age when the world has become a global village.

Initially, the thought of review had raised hope of remedy for the glaring flaws that were inherent in the earlier ruling of the country’s apex court, but it all went to nought when the panel choose to preserve the error. “The judgement of the Supreme Court is a finality,” Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, who read the majority judgement that has Chief Justice Tanko Muhammed as head of the panel, put the matter to rest.

The implication is that even if a decision of the Supreme Court is fraught with errors and controversies as the Imo governorship tussle has shown, it must subsist because they are ‘final’. However, Justice Chima Nweze disagreed with his colleagues as he concurred with Ihedioha’s counsel that “Uzodinma misled this court (Supreme Court) into awarding him victory.”

Perhaps, he was persuaded by the glaring inconsistencies in the pleadings that awarded Uzodinma undue victory and ordered: “Uzodinma should return his certificate of return to INEC which shall reissue it to Ihedioha.” But he was alone in that decision and his pronouncement, as profound as it seems, was, however, of no effect.

Not even the analogy of Kanu Agabi, Ihedioha led counsel that “when I was a child, my father will beat me to cry and also beat me to stop. My Lord, please we’re crying and do not treat us like my father did” could change anything. In the end, the status quo remains and Imo people are stuck with Uzodinma for four years

Shortly after the Supreme Court turned down Ihedioha review request, the media went into a frenzy and different headlines popped up to catch the attention of the reader. But I find some interesting, and at the same disturbing. It is disturbing because many failed to weigh the long-term implication of what happened and the bearing on electoral jurisprudence.

If anyone assumes or conclude that Ihedioha was a loser going by the outcome at the Supreme Court, that would be a huge mistake. True, he was denied the mandate freely bestowed on him by Imo electorate but a critical look will show that far from Ihedioha, the real loser is justice.

That is because it is hard to reconcile, as pointed out by Justice Nweze, that “Uzodinma cannot benefit from an election he wanted to be invalidated”, yet, he is handed the governorship seat of Imo state. That is, unmistakably, a knockout for justice and the people of Imo who would have to stick with a governor that errors foisted on them.

In my earlier article that was entitled ‘Imo: The people no longer decide’, I posited that “for all the justified outrage that trailed the manner in which Ihedioha lost out, one thing, and a frightening reality that the Supreme Court judgement represents is that, the people no longer decides.” I’m even more worried now than when I first made that conclusion.

Right before us, we have a precedent that would do no good in the future. It’s beyond Ihedioha because justice, as it has ever been, is never about an individual, but something that every society require for confidence and stability. Even God cherished justice and admonished humans through the various Holy books to always follow its path.

While the door of the courts is forever closed on the Imo governorship tussle for the 2019 election circle but the mind of Nigerians cannot be easily deflected away from how the impossible became possible, not by facts but controversial circumstance. This has come and gone, hopefully, we would not have another reason to rue the loss of justice in the future.

Oke Umurhohwo is a Political Analyst and Strategist. He tweets via @OkeStalyf and can be reached via oke.umu@gmail.com

Imo Guber: Is Our Supreme Court Partisan?

Imo Guber: Is Our Supreme Court Partisan?

By Walter Duru, Ph.D

On Tuesday, January 14, 2020, the Supreme Court of Nigeria, in one of the most controversial judgments in Nigerian history, sacked the Governor of Imo State, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha and declared the candidate of the All Progressives Congress- APC, Senator Hope Uzodimma Governor of the state. The judgment has continued to generate more questions than answers.

Senator Uzodinma’s petition was hinged on a claim that elections were conducted in certain 388 polling units, but the results of the elections were wrongly excluded by the Independent National Electoral Commission-INEC in their collation of results of the election, arguing that if the results were included, that he would have won the election.

Respondents in the petition, including INEC refuted the claim, describing the results, as tendered by the petitioner as fake. The burden of proof was therefore on the petitioner. But, did he prove his case? Is the apex court Judgment just? Was there any Order from above? Is the apex Court partisan? Were there other intervening factors? The list of questions goes on.

The Petitioner, in trying to prove his case called 54 witnesses, 28 of which were polling agents. No Ward collation agent(s) testified. Senator Uzodinma himself testified as Prosecution Witness 11; his state Collation Agent testified as PW51 and a certain police officer testified as PW54.

The results relied on by the petitioners were tendered in bags. PW54, a Deputy Commissioner of Police tendered documents in a pack, which he described as result sheets from 366 polling units. He did not open any of them or refer specifically to any. During cross examination, he admitted that he did not know the figures they contained or the polling units they were gotten from.

All the prosecution witnesses, including PW11 admitted during cross examination that the result sheets were not legible and/or did not contain the scores of all the political parties that participated in the election. The witnesses also admitted that the result sheets did not contain any entry to show the number of ballot papers issued to the respective polling units, number used and those not used. Most of the sheets did not show the names and signatures of the presiding officers and the date of issuance. In some, the dates written on them were before or after March 9, 2019. PW11 also admitted during cross examination that some of the results showed over voting. 

The Deputy Commissioner of Police who brought the results had no idea about the contents of the result. He came on Subpoena and said he was asked to bring the results. Even when the legal team of the respondents objected to it, the Court admitted them.

During cross examination, the DCP said he was not the maker and knew nothing about the content and scores. So, he was not able to link the results of the election with the documents he brought. He was shown copies of the documents he brought, but he could not read any score as they were not legible. All of these happened in Court and are recorded.

Is it not a case of dumping of documents in Court, which the same apex court has ruled against severally? The Petitioner himself, Senator Hope Uzodinma, when confronted in Court said he could not see the figures on the same results he tendered? When asked the source of the results, he said they were given to the Police.

When the Imo State Police Command was contacted, the Commissioner of Police said there was no record of the said documents as exhibits in custody of the Police. When the Deputy Commissioner came from Jos, there was/is also no record of where he signed to receive the documents, indicating details of the documents/exhibits taken. In fact, the Police have no such records.

Meanwhile, the number declared by the Supreme Court as that of the All Progressives Congress/ Senator Hope Uzodinma is far higher than the total number of registered voters, not to talk of the accredited voters. What about the votes of other political parties? Why were they not taken into consideration?

The entire facts of this case leave one without doubt that, all is not well. What really went wrong? Is this still Nigeria’s Supreme Court, where justice ought to reign?

If, recently, the apex court held that Senator Hope Uzodinma was not a candidate at that election, how did they now summersault to declare same person winner of the election?

The Supreme Court has held severally, including in the case of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar in 2019, that dumping of documents is not permissible in any trial. The same Court will say one thing today and tomorrow, it says another, depending on which suits their interest? Why did they change the panel that was handling the Imo State matter? They even resurrected a man that never sat on any matter for over three years to sit on a Governorship appeal?

The Petitioner brought things and dumped on the court. No witnesses from the booths. He called 28 relevant witnesses, but the same Supreme Court earlier held that one must bring witnesses from all the polling units. The Petitioner was therefore required to bring 388 witnesses from the 388 polling units. Who then explained what is in the results? What was the evidence the Supreme Court relied on? What were the figures from the 388 booths that the apex court summed up, considering the fact that most of them were not legible? What are the figures? In fact, many of the Uzodinma’s result sheets were blank.

The people that brought the results themselves said they did not know what was inside. Please, how did the Supreme Court arrive at the figures with which they declared the APC candidate winner?

I have seen a Certified True Copy of the said results. I have interrogated some of them. Number 69 on the sheet is Eziama/Okpala Umuogba village square, in Ngor Okpala village square- boot 008. The total number of registered voters is 492, while Uzodinma’s result, as declared by the Supreme Court is 819. How can a candidate’s votes be higher than the number of registered voters?

Again, number 377, in Umuchoko Town Hall – 006, the total number of registered voters, according to INEC records is 367, while Uzodinma’s APC scored same 367 and the PDP scored 2, according to the Supreme Court result, totaling 369. Apart from the fact that the number of votes is higher than the registered voters, there was not even a single void vote?

More so, number 384 on Senator Uzodinma’s result is Umunkwo Community Primary School, Umuopara- 006, where the total number of registered voters was 526. Here, Uzodinma claims to have scored same 526 and the PDP 2. Again, the total number of votes is higher than the number of registered voters. No other Party got votes and no void votes?

Also, many of the locations recorded as INEC polling units in the results are fake. For instance, in Nwangele Local Government Area, a ‘polling unit’ identified as Umuanu Community Secondary School, Umuanu 11 does not exist. What sort of a scam is this? 

In addition, Uzodinma’s table of results from the 388 polling units has no scores for other political parties such as the Action Alliance, which came second at the polls; former Governor IkediOhakim’s Accord Party; the All Progressives Grand Alliance, among others. So, the other political parties, numbering about 68 that contested the same election never got any votes, even from their accredited agents?

Yet, the APC did not win any single seat at the State House of Assembly, even as the elections were conducted on the same day and at the same time?

By the way, while majority of the result sheets presented by Uzodinma, which the apex Court relied on were not legible and the scores could not be read, even by Senator Uzodinma himself, a few legible ones show clearly that the number of votes awarded to the APC are far higher than the total number of registered voters in the polling units; not even accredited voters?

Certainly, this Supreme Court judgment defeats every common sense and logic.

Even in the case of Bauchi and Sokoto States, the apex court refused to award scores to the petitioner in the matter. One of the grounds is that the petitioner did not produce witnesses from each of the polling units to defend the results. What then happened in the case of Imo State? Can our apex Court be speaking from the both sides of their mouth?

The Supreme Court computation of votes and accreditation is strange. One of the documents submitted by the Independent National Electoral Commission- INEC to the Tribunal is Form EC8D. The CTC of FORM EC8D shows that: The total number of accredited voters at the election was 823,743. Total votes cast during the election was 739,435, while total rejected votes was 25,130. Total valid votes cast at the election for all the parties was 714,355.

Nigeria’s Supreme Court added 213,695 votes to Hope Uzodinma of APC from the fake 388 units and 1,903 votes to PDP, thereby making the total votes scored at the election to be 953,083.

This is far above the accredited voters clearly shown in the FORM EC8D before the Tribunal as 823,743. So, a whopping 129,340 votes cannot be accounted for by the Supreme Court decision.

The fundamental question is: how can the Supreme Court declare more votes than accredited voters? This raises an impracticable and unreasonable situation.

This Imo State judgment appears like a script written elsewhere and dumped on the apex Court to deliver. This is not the Supreme Court I used to know. What has gone wrong?

The international community must take steps to impose sanctions on everyone that has a hand in this day-light robbery in my dear State- Imo. There is no armed robbery worse than this.

Nigeria’s apex court must take urgent steps to quickly reverse itself before Nigerians resort to self-help in attending to their problems. Lawlessness is a possible consequence of this injustice.

There is an opportunity to save the face of the Supreme Court and the judiciary at large. The evidence is overwhelming. Take advantage of it and stylishly do the needful.

Ultimately, this judgment must find space in the Guinness Book of Records.

Dr. Walter Duru  is a Communications Expert and Executive Director of Media Initiative against Injustice, Violence and Corruption. He can be reached on: walterchike@gmail.com.

Imo State Supreme Court verdict: Matters Arising

Imo State Supreme Court verdict: Matters Arising

Five days after, the judgment of the Supreme Court on the March 9, 2019, gubernatorial contest in Imo State continued to reverberate with negative drumbeats. Partisans of the Peoples Democratic Party and ordinary citizens of Imo and other states took to the streets to protest the judgement with placards and other tools. It was a first for the country as it raises questions why the decision has been so controversial.

The Supreme Court ruled on January 14 that INEC should withdraw the certificate of return issued to Emeka Ihedioha of the People’s Democratic Party as the winner of the contest and thus Governor of Imo State and hand same over to Hope Uzodimma of the All Progressives Congress. It asserted that Uzodimma scored the highest votes and should immediately take the oath as governor.

Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun read the lead judgement of the unanimous verdict of the court. The Supreme Court based its ruling on the evidence brought by a police officer DCP Husseini that testified at the Appeal Court as PW-54. DCP Husseini brought election results from 388 polling units that the court said were excluded unlawfully from the overall collated results. Votes from the 388 polling units amounted to 213 295 and they all went to Mr Uzodimma.

Investigation
INEC records show that Imo State had 3, 523 polling units. Its initial result credited Uzodimma with 96, 458 votes from 3, 135 polling units. Kekere-Ekun directed the addition of the 213, 295 votes from 388 polling units to the 96, 458 votes earlier accredited to Uzodimma. It then took Uzodimma’s tally to 309, 753.

The result posed a significant challenge, however. With the new calculation by the Supreme Court, Imo State then had the dubious distinction of an election result ordered by the Supreme Court where votes allotted exceeded the number of accredited voters. It remains a sore point and source of embarrassment regarding the Supreme Court’s decision.

We find other aspects of the judgement troubling. The Supreme Court gave probative value to the proof of evidence of PW-54, a police officer, thus relying on an uncertified public document Form EC8A. The electoral law recognises only INEC and its staff for certifying election results. The Supreme Court overruled INEC and the lower courts and admitted the document brought by a witness who ordinarily does not qualify to present election results.

There are many ramifications of the Supreme Court ruling. For one, it means that public documents do not need certification for acceptance in transactions, with the Supreme Court judgement as evidence. It means an investor may lose his real estate investment because someone or group came up with a Certificate of Occupancy without certification from the Lands Registry on it. Such a scenario could happen even if the investor holds the original document. Has the Supreme Court opened the door for lower quality of documentary evidence to be admissible in our courts? Or will they ring-fence the Imo judgement so that no one can cite it?

Note that this judgement is against the backdrop of the reduced credibility of Nigerian documents in the international arena. It is more so for people dealing with investors from other countries. There are implications for business dealings, contracts and foreign investments. We hope that when the Court gives its reasons, it will clarify this matter.

INEC must speak to this judgement where an officer of the Nigeria Police Force brought documents INEC had rejected only for the Supreme Court to now accept it. What is the view of the election manager and regulator?

We also note that the Supreme Court handled the Imo electoral dispute before it in one day only. Such supersonic speed is unusual in handling a matter of such significance for citizens and the polity. The preceding and others are troubling matters arising from the Supreme Court on Imo State gubernatorial dispute. Citizens need an explanation.

BusinessDay – Editorial

NEW YEAR BROADCAST, DELIVERED BY THE GOVERNOR OF IMO STATE, HIS EXCELLENCY, RT. HON. EMEKA IHEDIOHA, CON. WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 1, 2020

NEW YEAR BROADCAST, DELIVERED BY THE GOVERNOR OF IMO STATE, HIS EXCELLENCY, RT. HON. EMEKA IHEDIOHA, CON. WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 1, 2020

UmunnemNdi Imo. On behalf of my family and the government of Imo State, I am most delighted to bring you our New Year greetings. We give thanks to Almighty God for bringing us into the New Year in good health, full of hope again and having faith in a prosperous 2020.

1.2 Seven (7) months ago, Gerald Irona and Itook over the reins of leadership as your Deputy Governor and Governor respectively. We thank you once again for this public mandate vested in our party, The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the sacred trust bestowed upon us.

 

1.3 The beginning of the year, indeed, offers us a great opportunity to renew our promise of complete dedication to the service of our people and faith in the Almighty God. That was one of the reasons why on the 20th of December 2019, we held an Inter-denominational Imo Day of Thanksgiving, to thank God for His mercies through the year. It was also time to renew our sacred pledge of fidelity to our Mission to rebuild, reposition and transform Imo State into a modern ecosystem.

 

1.4 Year 2020 is the famed year of possibilities. Metaphorically, 2020 also symbolizes complete vision. Here in Imo State, our vision for the future is very clear and we believe that all these possibilities are still attainable. I say so because, we have the determination of a committed Executive Team, the partnership of a collaborative Legislature, the wisdom of an independent Judiciary and the heart-warming support of an enlightened, God-fearing and hardworking people.  

2.0 MAJOR ACHIEVEMENTS OF THE PAST SEVEN MONTHS.

2.1   By your prayers support and partnership, the last seven months have been both a period of liberation and that of laying the foundation for effective take-off. Our collective accomplishments in pursuit of the Rebuild Imo Agenda imbue us with a very strong faith in a positive and prosperous future.

2.2   Our harmonious working relationship with the Legislature has resulted in an unprecedented record breaking 18 Bills passed and signed into Law since we were sworn-in. This is an enviable milestone by any standards.

2.3   Government has also established strong links to multilateral development partners and we are attracting donor-agencies fund for programs to virtually all sectors ranging from water projects to erosion control, rural access roads, healthcare, agriculture and education.

2.4   In keeping with this promise, one of the first actions I took as Governor was to direct the release of N500million (Five Hundred Million Naira) counterpart funding in order to activate in the first instance, N9.9 Billion (nine billion, nine hundred million naira) funding for the Urualla Erosion Control Project in Ideato North LGA from the World Bank NEWMAP Projects. Similarly, we paid Counterpart funding to catalyse the Rural Access and Mobility Project (RAMP) valued at N13.5 billion (Thirteen billion, five hundred million naira) also from the World Bank.  Under this programme, works are ongoing in 88 rural roads projects covering 380.7km of roads, across 26 Local Governments Areas.

2.5   In our campaigns, and indeed upon assumption of Office, we undertook to reposition our Local Governments to become strong centres of effective grassroot governance. In furtherance to this, we have restored their financial autonomy resulting in their receiving fund allocations directly, and in full too.

2.6   Under our constitutional oversight, all the Local Governments are constructing new secretariat complexes to provide conducive working environment for workers. For social amenities and youth development, we are partnering with the Local Governments also to construct mini-stadia or upgrade existing ones. I am glad to say that only a few days ago, I commissioned the Ultra-Modern Local Government Secretariat Complex at AhiazuMbaise, The first among those projects to be completed.

2.7   I have severally stressed that to fund meaningful development, we cannot depend on monthly Federal allocations. Not only are these funds static, they are subject to deductions emanating from our past debts and refund on bailout funds received. In any case, we currently spend about 73% of these allocations on salaries and pensions leaving us with barely nothing for other myriads of challenges confronting us. It became imperative therefore that we had to strengthen our IGR mechanisms. We are very delighted to note that from about N250m (Two Hundred and Fifty Million naira) that we met on ground monthly, IGR has risen to over One (1) billion in the month of December 2019. We are focused on an exponential increase in 2020.  Furthermore, this 2020, we will be looking into optimally deriving benefits from our Oil and Gas endowments – revenues , employment, wealth creation, sustainable development etc.

2.8   I assure you that Imo is OPEN FOR BUSINESS. Our dedicated ‘ease of doing business’ desk is there to address bottlenecks potential investors may face. Our efforts are gradually yielding results. Only recently, we allocated land in Owerri to AfrExim Bank, to build its quality assurance facility for the South-East and South-South zones. The facility is estimated to cost over $50million (N18Billion) and would surely boost our economy and commercial profile. Currently, 6 airlines are now operating in the Sam Mbakwe International Cargo Airport, a clear indication of the rising investor confidence in Imo State.

2.9. Human Capital Development remains our fulcrum in the “Rebuild Imo” Agenda. Therefore, training our people is thus our focus. In 2019, we trained over 6000 teachers, while this year would witness massive training and retraining of our teachers in different skills for managing 21st century teaching skills.Government has also approved funds needed for re-accreditation of all courses in Imo Polytechnic Umuagwo which were lost during the decay of the last eight years.In addition, we have made the study of Igbo Language now mandatory for all students in both public and private secondary schools in Imo State. 

2.10In pursuit of Food self-sufficiency, as well as harnessing commercial advantage, Agriculture is our priority. We have trained over 600 Imo youths under our Youth-in-Agriculture programme and would be advancing loans to interested applicants among them to start their own agribusiness.

2.11 We are poised to bridging the huge infrastructural deficit that we met on ground, we have about 30 on-going road construction projects distributed all around the State. These projects are quickly changing the transportation landscape of the State. I regret the temporary inconvenience these construction activities have caused our citizens this festive period. It is however, a worthwhile sacrifice as we shall in return inherit a durable and well-constructed road network in the state.

To compliment this, we are pursuing an aggressive housing development programme. Just last month,we performed the ground-breaking ceremony for a 1000 Housing Unit Rebuild Imo Estate in Azara-Owalla in Emekuku, OwerriNorth under a Public-Private-Partnership arrangement. In addition to this, we will develop Satellite Housing estates serviced with infrastructure State-wide to decongest the capital city and stimulate rural development.

2.12 In the area of public financial management, government has implemented strategic reforms through the Treasury Single Account (TSA) thereby stemming revenue leakages, and closing up the multiplicity of over 260 different accounts in operation before we came to office. In the same vein, we adopted the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS). Our reforms have strengthened the implementation of the State Public Procurement Law, commenced the implementation of Due Process, transparency, accountability and value for money in the award of State and Local Government contracts.

2.13 Dear Imolites, it is gladdening to note that the world is watching and our humble efforts have attracted both global and national recognition. Recently, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), rated Imo State as the Least Corrupt State in their 2nd Corruption Survey, while we were also appraised the Best Overall Performing State in ICT Development by the National Council on Communication and Digital Economy. Similarly, Businessday Newspapers, Nigeria’s leading economic journal ranked our State as the fastest growing economy in Nigeria in 2019.

2.14. I would like to reiterate that we are conscious of the huge challenge posed by these sterling ratings, the expectations that come with it,and are making conscious efforts to sustainthis positive national and global public opinion.

3.0 MISSION FOR 2020

3.1   The path of the just, the Bible says, is like the shining light, that shineth brighter and brighter unto a perfect day. This shall be the path of the Rebuild Imo journey.

3.2   Proper planning is based on empirical projections and prudent management of funds is vital for meaningful development. A viable budget is the basis for fiscal responsibility. On the 27th of December 2019, I signed into law the Imo 2020 Appropriation Bill signalling that the fiscal year will begin today, 1st of January 2020 as envisaged. We will keep faith with this instrument.

3.3   Many of the contracts we awarded for infrastructural development shall continue with zest to achieve their completion timelines.We shall also take on more projects that would make a greater impact in our developmental endeavours. To ensure sustenance of our road projects, we will revive the Road Maintenance Agency. We shall also vigorously pursue the rehabilitation, remobilization and reconstruction of the Onitsha Road Industrial Layout.

3.4   We shall intensify our efforts in our promotion of investment and industrialization to bolster economic development in the State and create jobs. The Bureau of Trade and Investment is currently conducting a verification process of Local and foreign companies that are ready to invest in Imo State. It is also developing specialized market clusters across the State to create competitive advantages for the improvement of business climate in the State.

3.5. We shall work to leverage our strategic position as the confluence state in the old Eastern Region, to transform into the preferred touristand conference destination in the region. Consequently, works are ongoing to partner with our rich hospitality industry to harness our potentials. In like manner, the Ahiajoku Lectures is back, revived and shall get better in the coming years. Similarly, our tourist resorts like the Oguta Lake Resort would be upgraded this year.

3.6   Government shall pay adequate attention to ensuring access to basic necessities of life and protection for vulnerable groups, including People Living with Disabilities. In addition, we shall work to domesticate the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act in Imo. We are also looking at working with development partners and civil society groups to establish Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARC).

3.7   You would recall that in my inaugural address, I specifically declared technical and vocational education (TVET) as a major pillar of our educational transformation programme. To this effect, we are investing more than N4Billion (Four Billion Naira) in the reconstruction, physical upgrade and curriculum improvement at the four premier technical colleges in the State. We have set a target for ourselves to have over 70 percent of theseTVET graduates to get jobs, be self-employed, or advance to tertiary institutions for Higher National Diplomas or Degrees.

3.8   Information Technology (IT) is like they say, the new “Oil “. Imo is leading the way in technological development with a view to making the State an IT hub. We have facilitated IT Tech Incubation centres, trained our women & youths, and are attracting the big names in Tech such as Google, MTN etc. in partnership as well as operations.

3.9   As the new decade beckons and the march to the 4th Industrial Revolution nears, the teaching of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning and Data Science would constitute a core of the curriculum of our schools. This is pursuant to our stated policy of inculcating in our young ones globally competitive skills and preparing them for the 21st century workforce. We reaffirm that we will continue to deploy ICT in our governance processes.

3.10 Information Technology will also be the platform that we will use to sanitize our previously abused land administration and allocation system. The newly constituted Land Use Allocation Committee (LUAC) will work within a framework of a digitalized geographic information system that we are in the process of procuring. This will further provide geo-spatial data for agricultural,environmental and transportation challenges. 

3. 11 My good people of Imo State. We are making our civil service work again. Government shall sustain salary payments in full and create necessary incentives to promote productivity. All the Commissions of Enquiry we set up would soon be submitting their reports and Government shall implement their valuable recommendations for the sanity of our institutions and the good of our people. Similarly, the Visitation Panels on our tertiary institutions would equally be submitting their reports and we shall be surefooted in repositioning our institutions of higher learning for better results.

3.12 In agriculture, we are looking to substantially reduce our dependence on food imports. We have set a target of planting 4 Million oil palm seedlings in the coming years. Consequently, we look to plant One (1) million this year. Our rice Mills in Ihitte/Uboma would be expanded and the Arondizuogu Mills would be revived.

3.13 In the Health Sector, I am glad to inform you that significant provisions have been made towards improving the health of all Imolites in the 2020 Budget. Our areas of emphases shall include;programmes against childhood malnutrition and reduction of maternal and infant mortality rates to its barest minimum.

3.14 Government shall renovate, re-equip and re-staff Primary Health Centres in all the Local Government Areas, in line with the national objective of achieving Universal Health Coverage. We shall also upgrade one general hospital in each zone to the status of a specialist hospital in specified areas of medical proficiency. Government shall also ensure effective operation and reach of the re-invigorated Imo State Health Insurance Scheme.

3.15 Let me please state that we have declared zero tolerance to all forms of stigma and discrimination against Persons Living with the Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV). The State, in collaboration with donor agencies will support the procurement of all the necessary kits and consumables in a concerted push for HIV/AIDS epidemic control, tagged HIV ART Surge.I personally have agreed to be the mascot and face of the Campaign to eliminate stigma and reduce prevalence rate. Members of the expanded State Executive Council have all agreed to join in this crusade.

3.16.This year, Owerri would return to its eminent status as the cleanest city in Nigeria. In this regard, we will further institutionalize our “ Go Green, Stay Clean “ Initiative, and mobilize the entire state for the planting of about 100,000 trees.

3.17. Imo State would take its pride of place as the home of sports, as our repair and rehabilitation works in all our sports institutions and stadia would be completed this year. The indomitable Grasshoppers Women Handball Club of Owerri, is up and running again. These Imo State born African Amazons have qualified to represent Nigeria in the 30th edition of the African Club Championships scheduled for Algeria in April 2020. Similarly, our volleyball team, the Heartland Spikers have qualified to represent Nigeria in an International tournament in Morrocco next year.

3.18 We would be gallantly participating in the 2020 National Sports Festival scheduled for March this year. In addition, after consideration of the immense benefits derivable from sports, Imo State would be bidding for the rights to host the 2022 edition.

3.19.We shall sustain our efforts at mobilizing Diaspora participation in the Rebuild Imo Agenda. Our Diaspora Summit has been scheduled for January 3, 2020. By this we are providing a veritable platform for Diaspora participation in critical sectors in the efforts of government to rebuild, reposition and transform the state.

3.20.Another area of major attention shall be  youths. In the passing year, we commenced a process of data capture of all youths in the 27 Local Government Areas of Imo State, we hope that this would be concluded soon.We shall embark on Youth employment programs, especially, the One-youth-one skill program with a target of generating direct and indirect employment for 500,000 youths.To pilot this, we have just set up, by law,an Imo State Employment Trust Fund to serve as a foundation for supporting youth empowerment.

3.21. This government understands the critical role of genuine data and statistics in the planning and developmental process. Consequently, upon assumption of office, we revamped the statistics department and upgraded it to the level of a bureau, known as The Imo State Bureau of Statistics.

4.0 APPEAL FOR PEOPLE PARTNERSHIP.

4.1. My dear brothers and sisters, I am sure by now we have been asking ourselves, what is our place in all these?What must we do, to bring about a realization of these noble programmes and projects? The answer is simple, are naissance of spirit and our collective partnership.

4.2   For instance, I earlier talked about Government IGR target to meet up with   the infrastructural development we have projected in the 2020 Budget. As we are aware, all over the world, governments are run from taxes paid by the citizens. As citizens and residents of Imo therefore, we should observe our civic obligations by paying our taxes as and when due.

4.3. On our part, we restate our solemn pledge to account for very Kobo Imolites pay and to bring it to bear on the quality of our infrastructure and improved living standards. Imo State is a blessed State. We will harness our strategic location, rich human capital and abundant natural resources for the greater good of our people. We are not abuja (the Federal Capital Territory). We are not Lagos (the commercial capital). We are not Port Harcourt, Rivers State (the oil capital), but we are Ndi Imo, a people known for industry and excellence.

4.4   You are also called to participate in our joint efforts to keep our environments clean always. We must be law abiding citizens and indeed have a re-orientation of values. Citizens should join hands to undertake community and neighbourhood development projects. Let us form an unbroken chain of support to the Operation Iron Gate security network by remaining alert in our neighbourhoods.

4.5   To our women folk, we truly appreciate you. I was excited by your zest and eagerness to contribute to this rebuilding effort typified by your participation in the last Imo Women’s Day. We will intensify our efforts to mobilize your beneficial involvement in the social, political and economic activities in the State.

4.6   Umunnem, let us also pray for the peace and prosperity of Imo State and work for its progress.

4.7   Today, we have an airport which is like the crowning jewel of our State. Many of us went through pains to make the contributions then, but today, we look back rejoicing for the harvest of an airport that has become a leader among many others.

4.8   In the same spirit we shall arise and build, so that when tomorrow comes, we shall look back in pride and satisfaction that we heeded the clarion call to the Rebuild Imo Agenda.

4.9   I must stress that I am impressed thus far by the show of goodwill by Imolites to our administration. I am also excited by their willingness to partner and support us as we rebuild the state from the ruins of the past. Moving around the State this festive period, I have seen a highly spirited people, eager and resolved to move the State forward. On the 26th of December, 2019, we held a stakeholders luncheon at which our people committed further to the rebuilding task. This, in no small way, strengthens my resolve. 

5.0   Ndi Imo, NdiOma, I wish you all a Very Happy and Prosperous New Year.

Long Live Imo State

Long live, the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Imo wunkeanyinile!!!

After Okorocha, and the least corrupt state is…Imo, says NBS

After Okorocha, and the least corrupt state is…Imo, says NBS

…Governor Ihedioha has  restored Confidence in Governance…Aide

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has rated Imo as the least corrupt state in Nigeria. The rating was contained in the bureau’s latest report titled “The 2nd Corruption Survey Report in Nigeria”, released at the State House Conference Center in Abuja, on Friday. Imo was rated the least corrupt state in Nigeria with 17.6%, followed by Jigawa and Plateau states.

The National Bureau of Statistics conducted the survey with the support of the United Nations Office on Drugs & Crime, in collaboration with other partner international agencies.

Highlights of the survey were presented by the Statistician General of the National Bureau of Statistics, Dr Yemi Kale, and the Country Representative of the UNODC in Nigeria, Mr Oliver Stople.

He said that the first corruption survey report on Nigeria was conducted in the last half of 2018, where Imo State was ranked very high in the corruption index. This was during the era of Rochas Okorocha administration.

According to him, “The NBS described the 2019 report as, ”home grown”, disclosing that data was collected from a total of 33,067 persons in the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

“The survey was developed as a tool to assess the impact of the measures put in place by States in fighting corruption in the period since after the 2019 elections. It also gives Nigerians the opportunity to assess and evaluate the impact of those measures.

“The report gave a state-by-state record of the corruption index in Nigeria, with Kogi State leading as the most corrupt state (48%), followed by Gombe at 43%.

“The report also suggested that there is a remarkable decrease in the prevalence of corruption in Imo State in the short time span. “In the survey also, Nigerians identified Unemployment, Insecurity and Corruption as the biggest problems of the country.

Reacting to the report, Chief Press Secretary to Governor Emeka Ihedioha of Imo State, Chibuike Onyeukwu said that watchers are not surprised at the development because, according to him, Imo State deserves the recognition based on the leadership that has been provided by the governor as well as the proactive and result oriented policies and programmes introduced by the Governor geared towards checking corrupt practices in government as was institutionalized by the past administration.

He said, “It is on record that the past administration institutionalized corruption while their stay lasted. The decay of those ugly years were what this administration promised to rebuild and you can see that the efforts of the governor are beginning to yield desired results. The years Imo was a laughing stock are over. His Excellency Governor Ihedioha ran the election on the basis of his integrity, track record of achievement, trust and capacity.

“He demonstrated a rare courage by signing Executive Order 005 on Treasury Single Account, TSA shortly after assuming office. By this action, His Excellency, made a bold statement on his administration’s zero tolerance for corrupt practices. On internally generated revenue, the past administration declared as at May, 2019, internally generated revenue of N241m but as we speak, His Excellency has made it possible for the state to generate almost N900m on IGR alone while targeting atleast N3 billion on IGR.

Onyeukwu explained that NBS rating on Imo State, is also an indication that the Rebuild Imo project is not a propaganda. He said that the enlistment of Imo State recently by Budgit, as one of the few states who have adopted Open Budget System is also very significant of the Governor’s transparency.

“On assumption of office, Imo State ranked 34th among the 36 States and the FCT on the Ease of Doing Business. The Governor wouldn’t accept any of that. He set up a desk on the Ease of Doing Business and deliberately sourced from among the best in the country to man the sector. And the good news is that there is tremendous improvement, resulting in the manner investors are showing interest in Imo, including AfrExim Bank that is investing $50m in the state.

Onyeukwu added that at that fresh air now pervades the state, the full autonomy of local government administration in the state, award of contracts now transparently go through laid down rules and processes, such that contracts now are procured and awarded to known firms. The governor has through his leadership, programmes and policies, restored confidence in governance in the State, and his appointees are following his body language and are in conformity with his ideology.

After Okorocha, and the least corrupt state is…Imo, says NBS

After Okorocha, and the least corrupt state is…Imo, says NBS

…Governor Ihedioha has restored Confidence in Governance…Aide

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has rated Imo as the least corrupt state in Nigeria. The rating was contained in the bureau’s latest report titled “The 2nd Corruption Survey Report in Nigeria”, released at the State House Conference Center in Abuja, on Friday. Imo was rated the least corrupt state in Nigeria with 17.6%, followed by Jigawa and Plateau states.

The National Bureau of Statistics conducted the survey with the support of the United Nations Office on Drugs & Crime, in collaboration with other partner international agencies.

Highlights of the survey were presented by the Statistician General of the National Bureau of Statistics, Dr Yemi Kale, and the Country Representative of the UNODC in Nigeria, Mr Oliver Stople.

He said that the first corruption survey report on Nigeria was conducted in the last half of 2018, where Imo State was ranked very high in the corruption index. This was during the era of Rochas Okorocha administration.

According to him, “The NBS described the 2019 report as, ”home grown”, disclosing that data was collected from a total of 33,067 persons in the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

“The survey was developed as a tool to assess the impact of the measures put in place by States in fighting corruption in the period since after the 2019 elections. It also gives Nigerians the opportunity to assess and evaluate the impact of those measures.

“The report gave a state-by-state record of the corruption index in Nigeria, with Kogi State leading as the most corrupt state (48%), followed by Gombe at 43%.

“The report also suggested that there is a remarkable decrease in the prevalence of corruption in Imo State in the short time span. “In the survey also, Nigerians identified Unemployment, Insecurity and Corruption as the biggest problems of the country.

Reacting to the report, Chief Press Secretary to Governor Emeka Ihedioha of Imo State, Chibuike Onyeukwu said that watchers are not surprised at the development because, according to him, Imo State deserves the recognition based on the leadership that has been provided by the governor as well as the proactive and result oriented policies and programmes introduced by the Governor geared towards checking corrupt practices in government as was institutionalized by the past administration.

He said, “It is on record that the past administration institutionalized corruption while their stay lasted. The decay of those ugly years were what this administration promised to rebuild and you can see that the efforts of the governor are beginning to yield desired results. The years Imo was a laughing stock are over. His Excellency Governor Ihedioha ran the election on the basis of his integrity, track record of achievement, trust and capacity.

“He demonstrated a rare courage by signing Executive Order 005 on Treasury Single Account, TSA shortly after assuming office. By this action, His Excellency, made a bold statement on his administration’s zero tolerance for corrupt practices. On internally generated revenue, the past administration declared as at May, 2019, internally generated revenue of N241m but as we speak, His Excellency has made it possible for the state to generate almost N900m on IGR alone while targeting atleast N3 billion on IGR.

Onyeukwu explained that NBS rating on Imo State, is also an indication that the Rebuild Imo project is not a propaganda. He said that the enlistment of Imo State recently by Budgit, as one of the few states who have adopted Open Budget System is also very significant of the Governor’s transparency.

“On assumption of office, Imo State ranked 34th among the 36 States and the FCT on the Ease of Doing Business. The Governor wouldn’t accept any of that. He set up a desk on the Ease of Doing Business and deliberately sourced from among the best in the country to man the sector. And the good news is that there is tremendous improvement, resulting in the manner investors are showing interest in Imo, including AfrExim Bank that is investing $50m in the state.

Onyeukwu added that at that fresh air now pervades the state, the full autonomy of local government administration in the state, award of contracts now transparently go through laid down rules and processes, such that contracts now are procured and awarded to known firms. The governor has through his leadership, programmes and policies, restored confidence in governance in the State, and his appointees are following his body language and are in conformity with his ideology.