by Isi Esene
The Abia State Governor, Theodore Orji, yesterday read the riot act to government officials who allegedly collect government revenues and convert same to personal use.
He lamented that the seemingly lack of progress in delivering key infrastructural projects to the people of the state was caused by the shortfall in Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).
The governor explained that a disproportionate percentage of the state’s federal receipts go into the payment of workers’ salaries which, according to him, is unacceptable.
Orji gave an example saying, “In June for instance, the state spent N2.5bn on wages out of its federal allocation of N3.4bn.”
Mr. Orji, who made this statement while meeting with state commissioners, permanent secretaries, and heads of extra-ministerial offices, ordered all accounts which were not authorised by the state government to be closed forthwith and threatened to fire defaulters.
The governor, who was obviously not satisfied with the state’s financial outlook, said, “As you leave this place, you should close all the revenue accounts in your ministries where you keep your revenue and disburse without government’s knowledge.
“All the revenues generated by your ministries must be paid into the consolidated revenue account that is what the law says.”
He continued saying, “We have instances where officers collect money and pocket it.”
“I am not going to take it lightly this time around; it will be tit-for-tat. If any commissioner keeps any account in the ministry, I will arrest him and lock him up along with his permanent secretary. I will sack him and then hand him over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.”
According to the Premium Times, Mr. Orji specifically singled out the commissioners for Lands, Commerce and Industry, Environment, and Agriculture for their unimpressive performance.
In a move to re-assert his authority over the appointed public officers, the governor said, “As my appointees, you have to do my bidding and if there is any arrangement you have in the ministry on how you generate revenue, go now and cancel it.”
“You have to do what I want you to do, otherwise, you should find your way out or I will show you the way out,’’ he said.
Observers see his declaration as a realization of the failure of his administration to lift the state from the doldrums despite its status as an oil producing state. They believe the governor’s action is an attempt to pass the buck while the state continues to wallow in its unenviable condition.