The Rochas Okorocha administration in Imo State has denied an allegation that it has earmarked N850m for Christmas decoration in certain parts of the state.
The denial was sequel to the warning by a group known as G-42 Imo Liberation Forum, which advised the government against the idea.
The rumour has been making the rounds in Imo State that the government had budgeted N850m for the erection of a special Christmas tree and other decorations ahead of the Yuletide celebration.
In a statement signed by the Director of Communication of the G-42, Dr. Walter Duru, and made available to our correspondent in Owerri on Monday, the group described the alleged plan as “a misplaced priority.”
The statement added that the spending would be meaningless “in the midst of scarce resources and at a time when the workers’ salaries and pensioners’ pensions were not being paid in full.”
It further said, “This coming at a time civil servants and pensioners in the state are being owed several months of salary arrears and other entitlements, while poverty is at its highest level in the history of the state.
“The situation is made worse by the dust raised over the alleged N500m spent in the erection of a statue of the South African President (Jacob Zuma).”
The statement further described such spending as “the highest level of insensitivity, misplaced priority and sheer waste of people’s resources,” reiterating its condemnation of the exercise.
Reacting to the allegation, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Sam Onwuemeodo, noted that Christmas celebrations had yet to commence and that it was rather too early to start talking about decoration.
He wondered why people would be “spreading unfounded rumour in high quarters;” and questioned the source of the information about the N850m allegedly billed for the decoration.
He said, “The allegation is baseless and aimed at destroying the already built positive image of the Rescue Mission Government in the state.”