The Imo State Government had denied report that it had misapplied the bailout fund of N26 billion as quoted by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related offences Commission (ICPC).
It would be recalled that last week one Mustapha Hussain on behalf of the Commissioner for Public Enlightenment in the Commission issued a statement on the states that had misapplied the bailout funds, Imo government inclusive.
A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Rochas Okorocha, Mr.Sam Onwuemeodo, said that the Commission did not however state how it arrived at that conclusion but only stated that some transfers were made into certain accounts not related to salaries and emoluments including “N2 billion paid into a government account; N2 billion paid into an Imo State Project Account and N2 billion transferred into a Microfinance Bank.
“The ICPC was right that such monies were paid into the mentioned accounts and we had expected the Commission to go further to tell the public what such funds paid into those accounts were used for. The Commission became stingy with facts at that point.
He queried that, “before the bailout fund, were there no existing accounts government was using to pay salaries? While giving out the bailout funds, was there any specified account that was given that the salaries must be paid from? These are questions that need to be answered since the Commission never claimed that the money was paid into private accounts or that the ones paid into the government’s accounts were used for other reasons except paying salaries.”
Justifying the mentioned government’s accounts, Onwuemeodo said that the personnel of Imo Security Network, Imo Community Watch, Youth Must Work Teachers, Community Government Council Teachers, and Imo Civil Guards were paid all their arrears in December 2015.
“‘From the referenced Microfinance Bank Account, Imo State University, Imo Polytechnic, Imo College of Nursing and Health Sciences staff and so on, collected their salaries also in arrears in December 2015. We also want the ICPC to prove us wrong on this claim.”
The truth was that the government was drawing money from the account to ensure full payment of workers’ salaries when the financial fortunes of the state began to dwindle like most other states. So, when the bailout fund finally came, the government had no option than to pay back the fund it had borrowed from that account.
“And the truth of the matter became glaring when the Labour Union in the state decided to be collecting seventy (70) percent of the total income of the state at the end of every month for salaries and pensions, leaving only 30 percent for government, for capital projects and since January, they have not been able to pay workers full salary.
“Last December, the State Government paid all arrears of workers’ salaries including workers of parastatals, agencies, and health outfits the government had got issues to settle with and also paid pensions which was not part of the bailout fund. We want to be faulted on all these claims.
“When the national leadership of NLC led a protest in the state, it was not on the issue of salary but over the suspension of certain workers of parastatals and agencies that have remained unproductive over the years. And it was the 70%-30% revenue sharing formula between the government and labour that ended the misunderstanding and the affected personnel were recalled.
“As we write, the payment of the February salary has begun. Which means the state is only owing the workers that of March since April has not ended. Let us be proved wrong in all these. Imo State has a bloated workforce and the highest number of pensioners, yet, it is only owing the workers, the month of March since, the payment for February has begun. So, in what way did the state divert or misapply the bailout fund?
The Imo State Government has regard and respect for agencies like ICPC because of the great service they have been rendering to this nation. Otherwise, we would have concluded that something was wrong somewhere.
The Imo State Government applied the bailout fund judiciously for the purpose it was meant for. And that was the payment of salaries. We did that and also paid pensions that were not part of the bailout fund. We stand to be contradicted.”