TheNigerianVoice Online Radio Center

GOVERNOR OKOROCHA AND THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT CASH POT (PART 3)

One of the key issues deliberated upon and resolved by the 1995 Constitutional Conference was the payment of derivation to oil mineral-producing areas. The resolution became part of the 1999 Constitution. It was agreed that the country should set aside not less than 13 per cent of the money accruing to the Federation Account as derivation fund to areas where natural resources are found. The 13 per cent derivation is a way of pacifying the oil-producing communities and also to compensate them for the massive degradation of their environment. It was also agreed that the fund should be managed by a National Derivation Board and a state implementation committee, with nominations from oil-producing communities.

In Imo State there are two Oil producing Local government areas namely Ohaji/Egbema and Oguta. It is a thing to shed tears that since June 2011 till September 2013 ,almost 3 years,the 13 per cent oil monthly derivation fund in Imo State has not impacted on the Imo oil-producing communities . This practice negates the principle behind the derivation which serves as reparation to host communities whose land and water resources are devastated by oil exploration activities. The vast majority of Ohaji/Egbema and Oguta people live in abject poverty. The reason for this embarrassing state of absurdity is the "profit first" capitalist governor of Imo State Chief Rochas Okorocha who has being looting the 13 percent oil derivation fund of the Imo oil producing areas with fanfare and impunity. The almost three years of Governor Okorocha' with regards to development of the oil producing areas of the state and with regards to development in the 27 Imo LGA's is nothing short of a nightmare.

A visit to Ohaji/Egbema and Oguta in Imo State will confirm that lack of basic amenities has made the area a ghost environment. Portable drinking water are all spoilt, Roads are now very bad, our schools (primary and secondary) are now in deplorable and dilapidated condition. No NEPA light in the area since June 2011. The question now is : where are the 13 percent oil derivation monies? Why did we not have NEPA light in the Imo Oil producing areas for close to 3 years? This is in spite of the fact that Imo witnessed the longest run of oil money in this regime. In other words, the state has amassed very huge oil and gas revenues, much more than any period since the history of Imo State.

What is happening in the Imo State Oil Producing Area Development Commission (ISOPADEC) and the 27 LGA's of Imo State under the Okorocha's government readily come to mind as one of the several examples of colossal looting of the Imo treasury yet the Zombie Imo House of Assembly members fold their hands and watch. Imo State have been favoured by high federal allocations to the 27 LGA's of the state . From June 2011 to August 2013 the 27 LGA's in Imo State alone have officially received from the federal government the sum of 135 billion naira but under the unjust system of governance of governor Okorocha via Sole Administrators in Imo LGA's the governor has kept the vast majority of the Imo population in unstable and difficult socio-economic conditions while he and his thieving cabals who reign supreme over unbelievable level of economic backwardness and mass misery in Imo State have exclusive access to things and comforts of life.

A huge con game is taking place in the 27 LGA's of Imo state. The quantity and quality of life for the vast majority of Imo people in the grassroots of the state vis-à-vis the basic means of living have drastically plummeted. This, it must be stressed, is due to the unprecedented looting of local government funds and looting of the 13 percent oil monies of the Imo oil producing areas by Okorocha. Where are the local roads, health care centres, modern schools and markets for the various LGA's in the state? Where are the projects to speed up development in the grass root of the state? Where are the billions of naira for Imo LGA's? Where are the billions of naira for Imo Oil producing areas?

Ohaji/Egbema LGA alone from May 2011 to August 2013 got from Nigerian Federal government the sum of N5,631,078,566 ( five billion six hundred and thirty one million seventy eight thousand five hundred and sixty six naira) as LGA allocation. Where are the monies? Where are the additional billions of naira of 13 percent oil derivation for Imo oil producing areas? Where is the 400 million naira FG flood grant to Ohaji/Egbema and Oguta flood victims? What is the actual amount sent to Ohaji/Egbema TC chairman by Imo State government? We want to know where Ohaji/Egbema allocations from FG ended up. How much is Ohaji/Egbema staff strength? How much is the staff salaries? Where has the surplus gone to? What is the remuneration of Paramount rulers of Ohaji/Egbema.

In the past, LGA funds in Imo State was used to develop certain vital social services in the grass root like education, health care and key investments on infrastructures like water, electricity, roads, industries, etc, all which severally and collectively positively impacted on the living standard of the ordinary working masses in the grassroot areas .In sharp contrast, the current Okorocha's so-called government, acting under the dictates and or in concert with imperialism has completely jettisoned the idea of government using local government funds and resources to better the lots of the local councils Instead, it has adopted a whole scale capitalist, neo-liberal strategy of looting of council funds. In effect, a permanent bazaar society has crystallised with the thieving cabals in the Imo corridors of power looting the resources and wealth of Imo councils leaving the overwhelming majority in the LGA's to provide houses, water, electricity, education, health care, etc, on their own, of course, strictly in accordance to the size of their pockets which is the only vocabulary understood and acceptable in the market jungle. Today, over 70% of Imolites at the grassroot areas are living below poverty line.

This large scale misappropriation of Imo state local government statutory allocation by the governor and his cohorts has functionally collapsed the cherished constitutional third tier structure. Who will save Imo from the hands of this capitalist thieving governor that is enmeshed in an orgy of corruption and mass looting of public assets and natural resources. Resources that should have been used to better the lot of the vast majority of Ndi-Imo. Who will save us from this capitalist anti peoples governor whose pre-occupation is the implementation of socio-economic policies that is making life harder for the overwhelming majority of Imolites. Looting is the primary ideological reason why he advocates and insist on commercialization of basic needs and social services in Imo State.Through this unjust strategy, he has since June 2011 virtually sold to himself all publicly built government houses and companies in Imo State at rock bottom prices, of course, with money directly looted from the state's treasury. Lord have mercy.

-Kenneth Uwadi, Mmahu-Egbema,Imo State, Nigeria

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Kenneth Uwadi and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

Articles by Kenneth Uwadi