The Imo State Government has lambasted Prof Maurice Iwu and his Economic Development Initiative team for leaking details of a private meeting it held with Governor Rochas Okorocha and some principal officers of the State Government.
A local newspaper had on Monday, January 8, 2017 reported that the team told the Governor that his administration has plunged Imo State into a debt of more than 93 billion naria.
In reaction to the story, Chief Press Secretary to Governor Okorocha, Sam Onwuemedo in a statement said “On all that was discussed at the meeting, the government believed that they were not for public consumption or for the media since it was agreed that such meeting should be held from time to time”
It said it will henceforth never accord the former INEC Chairman, Prof Maurice Iwu any further respect for doing so
“For that reason, we do not think that Prof. Iwu and his team deserve our respect again having abused the highly concentrated respect we had extended to them, since one does not eat his cake and still have it” the statement said.
The statement said Prof Iwu came to the meeting with opposition politicians and governorship aspirants such as “Chief Frank Nneji, former governorship candidate of the PDP in 2007 before the Supreme Court dropped him, Engineer Charles Ugwu, another governorship aspirant, Chief Jerry Chukwueke and a PDP Chieftain from Aboh Mbaise and former Chairman of that Local Government, Chief Charles Onwunali, Chief CY Amako, a PDP Chieftain from Owerri West and few others”
“On the Government side were the governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, Deputy Governor, Prince Eze Madumere, Secretary to the government of Imo State, Sir George Eche, Chief of Staff, Ugwumba Uche Nwosu, the Principal Secretary, Dr. Pascal Obi, the Head of Service, Sir Callistus Ekenze and few other Principal Officers of the government”
Below is Full Text Of The Statement.
PROF. MAURICE IWU & MEMBERS OF HIS TEAM HAVE ABUSED THE EXCEPTIONAL RESPECT WE ACCORDED TO THEM
(1) Operating under the aegis of IMO ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT INITIATIVE, Professor Maurice Iwu, former INEC Chairman and members of his group had sought to have a private audience with the Governor Owelle Rochas Okorocha and some key Government functionaries
(2) Considering who Professor Iwu is, the governor didn’t hesitate to grant their request.
(3) So, on Friday, January 5, 2018, the meeting held at the Government House Owerri. The meeting began at about 4.30pm and ended at about 9.45pm.
(4) On the part of the team, Prof. Iwu came with a governorship aspirant on the platform of APGA, Chief Frank Nneji, former governorship candidate of the PDP in 2007 before the Supreme Court dropped him, Engineer Charles Ugwu, another governorship aspirant, Chief Jerry Chukwueke and a PDP Chieftain from Aboh Mbaise and former Chairman of that Local Government, Chief Charles Onwunali, Chief CY Amako, a PDP Chieftain from Owerri West and few others.
(5) On the part of the government, were the governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, Deputy Governor, Prince Eze Madumere, Secretary to the government of Imo State, Sir George Eche, Chief of Staff, Ugwumba Uche Nwosu, the Principal Secretary, Dr. Pascal Obi, the Head of Service, Sir Callistus Ekenze and few other Principal Officers of the government. It was a serious meeting in all considerations.
(6) The governor welcomed them. And in the course of doing that jokingly raised the issue of the team being populated by politicians and governorship aspirants from the opposition parties; and said however, such scenario didn’t matter much since it was believed they had come for good.
(7) At that point, Professor Iwu took the floor and read a prepared text in which they raised the issues of the debt status of the State which stood at N93 billion, Economy of the State, donor agencies, the ban of Keke operations in the State Capital, IGR of the State and poverty level of the State.
(8) The Prof. Iwu led group also commended the governor for the free education programme, the high level of security, infrastructural development and so on.
(9) However, before the meeting proper, the governor had directed that all those coming for the meeting from the government’s side should drop their phones with the protocol personnel at the entrance of the venue of the meeting. The essence was to ensure that whatever that was discussed at the meeting didn’t go out for public consumption since the Prof. Iwu group had described the meeting as private. And the governor too, didn’t want any development that could jeopardize the Progress of the meeting.
(10) The governor also made sure that the document which Prof. Iwu read didn’t enter into the hand of any of the government representatives.
(11) In responding to the issues raised by Prof. Iwu, the governor regretted that the team didn’t come in 2011 when he became governor or 2015 when he was re-elected but waited till few months to his exit as governor of the State before coming with their positions. That innocent observation by the governor and the earlier one made on the political status of the members of the team only raised credibility question on the team.
(12) However, on the debt issue the governor said his administration does not owe any bank anywhere in the Country or outside. That, the N93 billion was an accumulated debts right from the creation of the State in 1976. And remarked that he has managed the debt profile of the State as governor and that is the reason some States with high IGR and allocations owe N241 billion, N155 billion, N140 billion, N311 billion, N157 billion, N142, billion respectively as shown in the record of Debt Management office as at December 2016, but regretted that the Prof. Iwu group only picked Anambra State in comparism with Imo, leaving many other States owing from N100 billion to N241 billion.
(13) On the poverty level of the State, the governor brought out United Nation’s Poverty index of the States to show that the poverty rate in Imo was 57% in 2011 but has come down to 19% with only Lagos, Osun, Anambra and Ekiti being better than Imo in the index. While Imo and Edo having 19% each are better than the rest of the States with poverty rates of 21% to 91%.
(14) The governor attributed the low level of Poverty in the State to the free education programme in the State, creation of enabling environment for economic activities which includes security, and provision of infrastructure, empowerment programmes of the government and attraction of investors, etal.
(15) The governor told them that there is an explosion in School enrolment in the State from 281,000 School enrolment in 2011 to 998,000 in 2017, which has led to Imo State dominating in JAMB applications since 2012 till date. Ditto WAEC and other public exams. For instance, in the National Common Entrance Examination Board’s 2017/18 Entrance Examination cut-off marks for the 36 States of the federation and FCT, Imo State and Anambra States have the highest cut-off mark of 66 each followed by Ogun, Lagos, Enugu, Delta, and Abia, which have 65 respectively. The records are there. An indication that Imo is not only working but working well.
(16) On the economy of the State, the governor said he has opened roads, provided security, infrastructure and enabling environment to attract investments and promote economic activities and that the result has been wonderful.
(17) The governor Challenged Prof. Iwu to tell those at the meeting whether Owerri the State Capital and the Government House were as they are now when the government of Chief Ikedi Ohakim, which he was the architect was in Power. He said he didn’t come to compare the current administration with the previous ones.
(18) The governor concluded by Challenging the team to compile all his achievements and the achievements of all those before him to see whether his repeated claim that the achievements of his administration have exceeded the achievements of all those before him since the creation of the State in 1976 both Military and Civilian put together.
(19) The governor also Challenged the team to find out whether his claim that his administration has to its Credit more than One thousand verifiable projects located in various parts of the State is true or false.
(20) The governor added that the ban of Keke Operations in the State Capital was one of the reasons there was no report of any crime in the State throughout the Christmas and New Year celebrations. And then urged them to support his administration because it meant well for the State and her people.
(21) On all that was discussed at the meeting, the government believed that they were not for public consumption or for the media since it was agreed that such meeting should be held from time to time.
(22) Unfortunately, in less than forty-eight hours, the story of the meeting was everywhere in the media with some of them quoting from the document Prof. Iwu read. Which means the team released the document they came with to the Press. And by so doing, justifying the initial observations of the governor concerning the timing of the meeting and the political inclinations and aspirations of the key members of the team.
(23) For that reason, we do not think that Prof. Iwu and his team deserve our respect again having abused the highly concentrated respect we had extended to them, since one does not eat his cake and still have it.
(24) We have always maintained that the 2019 election will be left for Imo people to decide at the Poll with regard to who will govern the State after Governor Okorocha. It is not by tricks. We have our achievements to show the difference between us and all those before us. And they know that it will be difficult for Imo people not to listen to Rochas when the time comes with regard to his monumental achievements. It is going to be achievements galore versus propaganda stuff. And your guess will be as good as mine on the one that would mean much to Imo people when the time comes.
Chief Press Secretary to the Governor