Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodinma, says he inherited an empty treasury and a disoriented civil service laced with monumental corruption when he took over office.
The Governor disclosed this in a state broadcast, monitored by DAILY POST on Monday, to mark his one hundred days in office.
Uzodinma said it was incredible to discover in the process of cross-checking Bank Verification Numbers(BVN) against names on the payroll, that some people earned salaries as civil servants and at the same time earned pension as pensioners.
He said his administration has been able to save N2 Billion monthly from the wage bill of Imo workers and pensioners after his insistence on enforcement of the BVN policy.
His words, “It was sad to behold the sight of the Imo State Civil Service Secretariat. The roofs of all the buildings housing the civil service structure were leaking. All the blocks were dirty and unkempt. There was no water in the buildings just as there was no light. To describe the entire environment where our civil servants worked as reminiscent of an abandoned scary set of buildings in which no decent person can conduct any meaningful business will be a gross understatement. It was close to a piggery!
“Worse still, I inherited a public service sector that was riddled with corruption and fraud. The amount of Imo State money that was siphoned through a public sector corruption-riddled payroll system was simply mind-blowing. It was, to say the least, incredible. I reasoned rightly that I had a choice to make in the face of the daunting situation on the ground; to sweep the appalling situation under the carpet and continue to do business as usual, as previous administrations did, and receive accolades for doing little or nothing. Or to summon the courage and do the right thing by flushing out an endemic corruption that threatened the survival of our state, and risk being initially misunderstood.
“Our hundred days in office, therefore, offers an auspicious moment to share and review with you, our journey so far since that fateful day of January 15, this year, when I was sworn in as the rightfully elected Governor of our dear state. The tradition of marking 100 days in office was begun by the administration of President John Kennedy of the US in 1963. Ever since the commemoration of the first 100 days in the life of an administration has become a feature of democracy around the world.
“Against the backdrop of an almost failed civil service that we met, our initial efforts in the first One Hundred days of our administration, have centered on arresting the rot in the system so that the good people of Imo State will enjoy to the full, their God-given wealth, knowing that leakages in the state treasury have caused untold hardship to them.
“Expectedly, however, the cabal responsible for this massive haemorrhage of the State treasury is not giving up without a fight. Deploying their well-known channels for misinformation and propaganda they tried to put enormous pressure on the administration, to turn a blind eye to doctored payment records.
“But, we have resisted their attempts at blackmail. Instead, we have insisted that anomalies in payment records be corrected. The Imo State of which, by the Grace of God, I am the Governor, has the funds to meet all recurrent expenditures. But not a kobo will go to the cabal of payroll fraudsters who have held the State hostage for many years.
“A crucial look at salary management in the state revealed some startling trends that have consistently haemorrhaged our common treasury. Some glaring mismatch discovered amply proves that the state salary regime is fraught with corrupt manipulations
“I found it curious that a state with 56,000 workers (both state and LGA) only captured 17, 000 persons in the income tax otherwise known as Pay as you Earn(PAYE). More mesmerising is the fact that the nominal roll of Pensioners has stood at 30,000 for ten years now. This will mean that there have been no retirements in the last 10 years”.
The Governor, however, reiterated his commitment and promise to pay salaries on or before the end of every month as his government would not allow the payroll cabal to use it as an excuse to blackmail him into paying nonexistent staff salaries that ends up in their private pockets.