By Dikachi Franklin, Owerri
The State Economic Development and Rehabilitation Council (SEDARC) and the Graduate Employment Scheme (GES) are two of the structures Hope Uzodinma, the new governor of Imo State, is hoping would enable him to scale up the economy of the state for the next four years of his administration.
Governor Uzodinma was on January 14, 2020 announced by the Supreme Court as the winner of the March 9, 2019 governorship election after sacking Emeka Ihedioha who was declared the winner by Nigeria’s election umpire, the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) last year
In his maiden address to the people of the state , Governor Uzodinma, among other things, said Imo State under his control would establish a State Economic Development and Rehabilitation Council (SEDARC) to enable his government provide remedial framework and templates to redress what he described as the chronic fiscal and infrastructural deficits militating against the state’s economic development.
SEDARC, he said, would address key economic challenges of the state like the abandoned roads in Owerri, Orlu and Okigwe metropolis, the collapsing bridges, the abandoned Otamiri Water scheme, etc, would receive the immediate attention of SEDARC.
He disclosed that SEDARC would “fully identify, locate and recover all missing public assets, as well as coordinate a forensic investigation into the state’s finances and determine the veracity of the huge public debts estimated at over N200 billion, as well as establish the net-worth/balance sheet of the State Government as at January 13, 2020”.
He informed also that the council would recover all illegally acquired private lands, estates by government or its agents and return them to their rightful owners.
Uzodinma said that the SEDARC would “abolish all forms of unconscionable “imperial,” taxes, levies, and fees other than that established by law which its applications shall not impoverish the citizens. The state BIR shall in liaison with SEDARC develop a new Imo internal revenue to boost the earnings of the state.
“We shall dismantle all existing structures in the State Civil Service that encouraged the massive looting of public funds.
It takes a willing civil servant and an overbearing politician to engage in covert expropriation of commonwealth.
“Civil Servants who are part of the existing mode of plundering the treasury shall be handed over to the appropriate anti-graft agencies”, he disclosed.
In addition to the conduct of a credible local government elections soon, we shall reconstitute the State-Local Government Joint Accounts Allocation Committee (JACC,) (a prototype of the FAAC) to manage and superintend over local government’s funds.
Accordingly, all deductions from local government funds are hereby stopped. Local governments will henceforth receive their full allocation and be accountable for same.
The state government shall contribute 10% of its net IGR to JAAC as state governments counterpart funds towards rural economic and social development.
The governor said his administration would establish “Graduate Entrepreneurship Scheme to equip graduates with requisite set of skills for self-esteem employment in the evolving Fourth Industrial Revolution” and about 750 graduates would benefit from the initial phase of the GES programme.
And the government would provde necessary guarantees for startups through the facilities of the State Development Finance and Investment Corporation (DFIC), he said.