Stamping Public Misappropriations Out of Imo State

Source: Prof. Nathan Uzoma Protus
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Prof. Nathan Uzoma Protus
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Imo properties and public funds have been stamping grounds for political officeholders in the State since the inception of nascent democracy in Nigeria in 1999. Hardly had any elective or appointive public officeholder finish its tenure without allegations, stories and traces of looted funds or diverted public assets. At times, career civil servants have joined the bandwagon of looters and appropriators of public funds and assets. This mayhem has become a sort of heritage for the State.

What are more startling are the indifferent attitudes of Imo Stakeholders in speaking out against such evils and for relevant agencies to be joined in tracking such misappropriations. Mostly in the print-media, less than five Imolites yearly speak out against misappropriations of State funds and assets, even as it is crystal clear that such debunked news thereto declared rumours are practical verities.

The few who have courage to speak out, agitate and resist the acts, are considered enemies of the Government in power, and the very act of speaking out against such obvious truth is considered as destructive opposition politics. Yet, when the sacred cow goes out of office, all starts screaming against its loots while in office, and it is only when a passed public officeholder goes out of office that Imolites see values in the erstwhile social critics who decried the loots and misappropriation of public funds and assets while such occupant was in office.

The problems with looting and recovering of public funds and assets in Imo State are triple. The bureaucrat civil servants are under obligations to execute the misappropriation-orders of their paymasters and are thus inalienable accomplices who perfect the act in untraceable manners. Yet, their consciences are freed at the same time the general Imolites see the values of social critics, and it becomes easy to get details of past misappropriations they perfected as paid-workers, when the State has lost greatly.

Even when a new administration has the effrontery to probe and recover misappropriated Imo patrimony, the leader is seen as vindictive and witch-hunting. Yet, there is no gainsaying the fact that our public elective and appointive officeholders sudden grow richer than their political jurisdiction they represent barely six months in office. This makes political offices more lucrative and thus endangering electioneering and partyism in the State.

The inability of bureaucrat civil servants to play patriots and thus assume the State’s whistle blowers and informants defects the efforts of social critics to get information. Civil servants thus become PAs of public officeholders and thus good soldiers that die at their posts against the freedom of information bill and against the wellbeing of the State. This inability enslaves civil service not only in Imo State but in Nigeria in general and the workers thereon learn and execute certain degrees of misappropriations at their own personal advantages, having learnt from their paymaster. This makes for a catena malum (chains of evil). But when an administrative head vows and declares anti-looting and misappropriations, puts up viable and trustworthy mechanisms or offices for direct assistance in the vision, the workers have no option than to do as Oga does.

The last problematic with looting and recovering of public funds and assets in Imo State is the defence and coverage of the evils by the Party in power and godfathers/mothers of the public officeholders when their own member or candidate misappropriates public funds. The impression made before the public is that the opposition party is at work and wants to undo the government in power. The ruling party or godfather/mother thus defends its own at the expense of the State’s wellbeing.

These malaises are not uncontrollable or out of hand. There is need to establish and institutionalize platforms that ensure at least average knowledge, contribution and control of their resources by the State’s masses. This is the central vision of the 3 ‘Rs’ of the Senator Hope Uzodinma-led administration. The 3 ‘Rs’ mantra of this administration have the foundations and operational platforms not only to recover looted funds and misappropriated properties of the State from former Governor Rochas Okorocha, his relatives and cronies, but to go further towards other leadership segments, levels and arms of government of the past administrations and dig deep to expose the loots.

If this present administration lives true to its current body-language of incorruptibility, lives just to its avowals on the 3Rs, projects indefatigably with unconditional considerations to recover whatever from whoever, irrespective of the social status, then, we have got the Beautiful One whose birth has been expected for long. The public interactive programs of Gov Uzodinma with the Imo masses few days ago is a crucial aspect of accountability that lacked in past administrations and it needs to be periodical.

What still staggers in this administration is the operational mechanism put up by the Governor to be able to ensure perfect and holistic payment of workers’ salaries and pensioners’ entitlements, and to put up viable auditing and stimulating apertures to ensure consistence, patterned regular payment and no backsliding.

This vision is not impossible. The body-language of Sen. Hope Uzodinma gives certain degrees of optimism that he will make a clear difference from preceding administrations in terms of probity, transparency and accountability in office, which are administrative virtues that Imo State has never been opportune to have from its past leaders from different fields, levels and arms of government since 1999.

To this effect, it is expedient to support the Governor to forge ahead in recovering all recoverable from whoever, wherever and whenever, and as the French would say n’importe qui and from all levels and arms of past and present governments. I thus urge the Governor to ensure consistent self-accountability, knowing that after doing this, next administration will probe him and he thus becomes the Imo Icon of Democracy when after his administration, he remains as he is at present impeccable of any form of State misappropriated funds and properties.

On this note, and as everyone knows in Imo State that I am not, have never been and will never be a praise-singer to anyone or government in power. I remark that since the inception of this present administration, there are no rumours or suspicions of misappropriations of public funds and diversions of State properties by the Governor or his Deputy. Since 1999, no seating Governor stayed for 6 months without such news of investments in abroad, estate developments, car selling companies, land acquisitions, and borrowing bonds-debts for the State, etc.

These call for further proper articulations of more fortified means of perpetuating open-door policies in this administration, which necessitate devising further means of transparency pursuance, insurance and maintenance. The Governor needs extended monitoring eyes for effective administration, accountability, monitoring, public criticism and liaising platforms for the actualizations of the central aims of the 3 Rs mantra of his administration, and under his own surveillance and directives.

As an individual, I have remained a consistent voice that speaks and resists loots and misappropriations in the State, and have never received hands of fellowship by an administration to think out, fix and maintain probity, transparency and accountability in the State, instead, my life and family have been jeopardized for the sake of Imo and I have no regrets or remorse for speaking out and will never fail to speak and join any genuine group or administration that is for accountability and the recovery of Imo looted properties and funds from all departments, levels and arms of Government.

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