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IMO'S 40 BILLION BOND, IN WHOSE INTEREST?

Source: huhuonline.com

The Electronic message personally written and signed by Ikedi Ohakim, the Imo State Governor and sent to several Imo indigenes living in Abuja that Sunday morning read thus "I most sincerely invite you to meet me at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel Abuja by 4pm where we will rub minds of certain developments in Imo State since I took over the reins of power, I will be expecting you sir". Seen as a Plus in governance, most Imo People who received the message that morning and who have been disappointed at the turn of events especially as it concerns governance in Imo State since 1999 saw that as a good opportunity to meet face to face with the man who have been saddled with governing Imo since 2007 even though without their mandate, perhaps to seek answers to some nagging issues prominent among which is graduate unemployment, the vexed issue of kidnapping which has assumed a dangerous dimension, collapse of infrastructures like roads as well as barefaced corruption which has been ravaging the State. Besides this crop of Imo indigenes who though live far away from home are also desirous to seek answers from Mr. Ohakim as to why no industries have been built and why the road network in Imo is in a disappointing state as well as collapse of health and educational institutions among other nagging issues. Arriving the Imo Hall located inside Transcorp Hilton, the people were first shocked to see non Imo People among the audience seated at the High table but the banner hanging behind the high table was all the people needed to see to know that indeed the people had been taken for a huge joke and that rather than the issue of Imo State, they were invited to be part of an unnecessary financial transaction between Ohakim and UBA Plc styled bond placement. Too late to take their leave, the people some of whom are Professors, Top Civil Servants, businessmen, Journalists and others from several endeavours of life decided to sit through the event and at least know what the bond issue is all about.

Rising to his feet, the man who summoned the meeting, Ikedi Ohakim then intimated the People on the bond issue which he said is a mere 40 billion Naira, an amount according to him will enable completion of Oguta Lake tourism site, some water projects and unnamed road projects which he claimed his government hopes to use to set the state rolling . He then urged Imo People to support his governments' bid to go into the bond agreement with UBA Plc since according to him the bond money will in no small measure push the case of development which Imo State needs now. Several other speeches were made by his Commissioner for Finance, George Irechukwu, a fellow whose financial background is still a subject of controversy and one Ndi Okereke Onyiuke, the Director General of Nigerian Stock Exchange whose tenure as NSE has been marred with controversies and financial mess. Helpless, the Imo People who had converged at the Transcorp Hilton left the hall in anger, in frustration as the Governor only wanted to use them to achieve his personal desire of acquiring a needless bond which is that he consulted widely before taking the bond.

But several financial analysts who have been peeping into the Imo bond package have refused to accede to the reason adduced by Imo State Government to go for the bond in the first place. For instance analysts query the need for a 40 billion Naira bond whereas the State has received over 351 billion Naira from the Federation Account since 2007 that Ohakim annexed Power. To them a government that cannot give account of a huge money like 351 billion Naira it has collected, how then can the same government account for a 40 billion Naira whose terms Imo people do not know and whose arrangement they were not part of. Secondly it is expected that being a bond, the general public should buy into it, but a look at the People who graced the governor's forum at Transcorp Hilton show only Imo People as no serious investors was part of the audience, what this implies is that aside from Imo People, the government is not expecting outside investors to buy into the bond. Thirdly for a State whose internally generated revenue is close to zero Naira and heavily depends on Federal allocation, analysts say jumping into a bond of that magnitude smacks fraud and desire to defraud a hapless people. There is also the issue of the investment plan of the bond, itself which targets to develop a tourism centre in a state known more kidnapping, armed robbery and prostitution especially in the last two years. In effect therefore, analysts worry that a State known for such ugly social malaise may find it Herculean to attract investments besides a state Government which direct investments into non yielding projects like tourism and water projects where then is the possibility that such projects have hope of making profit on its own. Besides the high level corruption in Imo appear to worry investors and financial analysts more than any other thing about the Imo bond. For instance it is a notorious fact that Imo as an oil producing State have received more than States like Enugu and Anambra all in the same South East but this same Imo has little on grounds in terms of infrastructure and financial profile to show for all that money that has come to Imo Since 2007 and we ask who then in the face of these mindless misgovernance will invest in an Imo state bond. Again the personal profile of the governor himself has made the entire bond arrangement unattractive and hopeless. To analysts there is no sign of governance in Imo as the Governor has spent over 500 days of the 720 days in office out of Imo State for no serious issue as it relates the governance but merely to fro lick around the globe with women of easy virtue at a huge financial expense to the state yes in Imo today government officials who accompany the Governor to these frolick would not believe that in 2 years they have visited over 50 hotels alone in Accra, Lagos, Abuja, London, India and Sao Tome, now would any investor put his money in the care a lustful fellow as Ohakim and go to sleep. Again analysts say if it is remembered that the bond money as packaged for some states like Jigawa and Cross River remains unpatronised to thisday by the investing Public worse the problems that these two states are currently experiencing with cash flow as a result of investment in bonds leaves gap in the calculation of investors as to the logic behind Ohakim's move to acquire a 40 billion Naira bond on behalf of IMO people. Add to this to the fact that it was the same UBA Plc and some characters in the bank like one Odouza who packaged the same deal for Jigawa and Cross River State, a deal that has enriched these characters and UBA PLC whereas the States in question are today a financial sorry sight. Now analysts say looking at the sorry financial state of the two States in question, what therefore is the motivating factor for Ohakim into entering into financial agreement that will no doubt leave Imo State prostrate now and the near future and make him OHAKIM the billionaire he has been dreaming of since he tasted government in 1991 as a commissioner.

Already to buoy financial analysts position that the bond is meant to serve selfish interest, the people behind the bond agreement has in less than 72 hours of signing the bond on a Sunday in Abuja taken out 10% value of the bond a staggering 1.85 billion of which Ikedi Ohakim has already pocketed a whopping one billion while over 850 million have lined the pockets of the likes of Irechukwu, Onyiuke, lawyers to the bond as well as the Issuing houses to the bond, now analysts say with this fast and criminal transaction done barely 24 hours after signing the bond, those who are doubting the intention of the bond have been proved right and now told in an unpretentious manner to go to hell for what ever they care about the bond. Unfortunately these analysts are not the losers in the fathom financial deal for crying out loud, yes they real losers are Imo People and generations unborn who are unfortunate to have as a Governor a man who thinks more of himself, his family and a motley crowd of hangers on who daily sing hosanna music to his ears for a morsel of bread. But the question still is, who needs the 40 billion as packaged between the Imo State Governor and UBA Plc, definitely not the People who daily yoke under an impostor stamped into power by Obasanjo and his co-travellers in 2007 but who today is acting the PHAROAH OF IMO STATE. We ask again, in whose interest is Ohakim packaging this financially unwholesome 40 billion Naira bond and who will rescue IMO from this brigande called Governance as we have today in IMO, only time will tell.

Maximus Uba, a journalist lives in Mbaise, Nigeria.

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