By Dikachi Franklin, in Owerri
Less than two weeks to the end of Governor Rochas Okorocha administration in Imo State, Gerald Alphonsus Irona, the incoming deputy governor-elect, has declared the state bankrupt on account of alleged debt over-hang and liabilities running into billions of naira, incurred by the Okorocha administration .
An unconfirmed source put Imo domestic debt obligation at N101,964,536,533.04 while the total foreign debt obligation is $65 million and N23 billion, excluding pension arrears, debt owed to deposit money banks, contractors, judgement debt liabilities, among others.
Imo is the third most densely populated state in the country after Anambra and Lagos and the eight most literate state in Nigeria and has a population put at 2.8 percent of the national population.
Its estimated gross state product (GSP) was N874.5 billion in 2017 or 0.77 percent of Nigeria’s GDP, third in the South East, 13th in the South and 25th in Nigeria. And services made up 62 percent, oil industry, 19 percent, agriculture,14 percent and non-oil industry, 5 percent.
Irona spoke at Oguta in Oguta LGA, his country home recently saying the incoming Emeka Ihedioha government is mindful of the bankrupt Imo State and that the incoming administration, certainly, would inherit an insolvent state with huge dilapidated infrastructure.
He said the economy of the state is not afloat, alleging massive and wanton looting of the state’s treasury. However, he said, Emeka Ihedioha would run a smooth, responsible and responsive as well as transparent administration and that with the support of Imo people all economic challenges would be taken care of.
“We are mindful of the challenges, we are mindful of the fact that we shall be inheriting Imo State with deplorable infrastructure, we are meeting Imo state that is totally a bankrupt state and we are also mindful of these facts.
“I therefore wish that Imo state should be better after our four years and by your support, by your grace and prayers we shall achieve,” Irona said.