By PETER OKOLIE
OWERRI- The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Imo have disagreed over Gov. Hope Uzodimma’s scorecard within three years in office.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Gov. Uzodimma assumed office on Jan. 14, 2020, following a judgment of the Supreme Court which affirmed his victory at the 2019 governorship election in the state.
While the PDP Publicity Secretary, Mr Collins Opurozor, said Uzodimma’s three years were enmeshed in economic stagnation, mass penury, insecurity and infrastructural decay, the APC Publicity Secretary, Mr Cajetan Duke, dismissed the statement.
In a statement signed by the PDP publicity secretary and made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Owerri, Opurozor argued that the greatest casualties of Gov. Uzodimma’s emergence are the Imo people.
He alleged that Uzodimma had, in the past three years, worked so hard to ensure that all the institutions of democracy in the state are dismantled and full-blown dictatorship firmly established.
Opurozor further claimed that bloodshed, poor healthcare, collapse of education, dearth of agricultural productivity, conscription of the political space and violation of human rights have become the order of the day.
“For instance, the local government system, which is a mechanism put in place to expand and sustain the democratic space and spread democratic values, has been destroyed in Imo State.
“This is a huge tragedy! Imo is a state that has over 70 per cent of her entire population living in the rural areas.
“Yet, the only channel through which governance can be delivered to the people has been completely run aground,” he contended.
Opurozor also claimed that in last 36 months, Uzodinma had received from the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) a total of N180.6 billion meant for the Local Governments in the state.
“Today, there is nothing on ground that shows that even a kobo has gotten to the Local Government Areas.
“Sen. Hope Uzodimma must, without any further delay, tell Imo people where he kept the N180.6 billion belonging to the Local Governments,” he said.
He argued that Uzodimma had made incessant borrowings a state policy which had plunged the state into irredeemable debt slavery.
According to him, Imo is currently the most indebted Igbo state, with a debt profile which stands at N220 billion.
“That means that the regime of Sen. Uzodinma has doubled the debt profile in less than three years and the fundamental question is: What has the regime done with over N100 billion it has borrowed so far?”
He said in spite of the borrowings, Uzodimma had made no effort at re-jigging investments in the hugely vital agro-industrial sector where Imo has major comparative advantage.
“What Senator Uzodinma really needs to explain to Imo people is how he diverted a whopping sum of N56 billion on the pretence of constructing the 36-kilometer Owerri-Orlu road.
“Does the administration in Imo want the people to believe that a kilometer of road was done at the rate of N1.5 billion?
“This same Craneburg Construction Company, which works for Uzodinma, has also done the Lekki-Epe Road in Lagos State and the Ibadan Circular Road in Oyo State.
“In both instances, even drainages and terrains rougher than Imo, the cost never exceeded N450 million per kilometer, but in Uzodinma’s Imo, the cost of a single kilometer of road by the same company suddenly became N1.5 billion,” he said.
Opurozor estimated that the 2023 budget revenue of the state would be sourced from FAAC, 13 per cent derivation, internally generated revenue, intervention grants would amount to N120.6 billion.
He maintained that Gov. Uzodimma is already planning to spend N475 billion within the year with the deficit of N354 billion which would be raised through borrowings.
“The loans would be solely dedicated to expanding Uzodimma’s political war chest and financing sundry other electoral malpractices, including massive vote buying.
“Already, agents of Imo APC have started distributing forms, requesting for bank accounts and PVC details of Imo voters so as to commence the first phase of this brazen electoral fraud,” he alleged.
He claimed that the party had intercepted credible intelligence about the planned role which the Uzodinma-backed Ebubeagu Militia would play in this process of derailing democracy in the state.
He therefore urged the Inspector-General of Police to immediately disband Ebubeagu Militia, claiming that since Ebubeagu began its operations in the state, insecurity, killings, abductions and arson have risen astronomically.
But dismissing the claims however, the APC Publicity Secretary, Mr Cajetan Duke, said the PDP should rather praise Uzodimma for the giant strides of development in the past three years.
Duke said: “We are glad today that the opposition PDP has confirmed by the contents of their press conference of the reconstruction of the Owerri-Orlu road.
“Their argument on the cost of the project is neither here nor there!
“PDP should stop reminding Imolites of their seven months illegal occupation of Douglas House and the unimaginable looting of our common patrimony.
“When they talk about the January 14th, 2020, landmark judgment of the Supreme Court, Imo PDP validates our position that the insecurity in the state is politically contrived,” he added.
Duke contended that the PDP’s argument on borrowing had reduced opposition politics to a roadside gossip as borrowing to fund investment in the critical sector of the economy was not a crime.
“Almost three years in office, nobody, including the opposition PDP, has accused Gov. Hope Uzodimma of converting public wealth to personal and private uses.
“No one has accused the governor of building a new house or renovating his old house in the village.
“Nobody has accused Uzodimma of appropriating any public land or asset to himself or any member of his family since inception of this administration,” he argued.
The APC publicity secretary further described PDP’s accusation of borrowing money to compromise the forthcoming general elections as an “acknowledgement of defeat”.
He said Imo PDP was only intimidated by the popularity of the APC-led shared prosperity administration of Gov. Hope Uzodimma.
“Their strategy is to do everything humanly possible to discredit the outcome of the forthcoming election.
“While they were busy labouring, albeit in vain, to undermine this administration, the Supreme Court, today nullified the Imo West senatorial primaries of the PDP,” he added. (NAN)