Elder statesman and former special adviser to former governor Ogbonnaya Onu, Chief Ikem Nwokoro has blamed the inability of the Governor Okezie Ikpeazu led government to pay workers salaries and pensions, on revenue contractors who underestimate and undervalue the revenue collection to benefit their pockets at the expense of the state.
Chief Nwokoro, who also served in the administration of Chief Orji Uzor Kalu told News Critic in an interview conducted at his Okpulu Umuobo Road, Aba office that it is regrettable that the state government is still having difficulty generating enough revenue to run the affairs of the state despite having a commercial city in the status of Aba.
He attributed this situation to the fraudulent activities of revenue contractors whom he accused of using the revenue of the state to further their private interests, while leaving the state to suffer. Said he, “These cabals are using our state funds to build their private business empires, mansions and commercial establishments, and developing their home-states, as many of them are not patriotic, and hail from other States, he alleged.
According to him Aba has the potentials, with over 36 active markets and all the businesses to generate N100 million daily which is enough to pay workers salaries and run the state without depending on the federation allocation. Nwokoro, who said that he has conducted a survey on Aba only to discover that 90 per cent of revenue collected in Aba enter into private pockets, adding that if patriotic men and consultants are brought together they will raise enough money to run the state.
He proposed the establishment of a commission, Abia State Revenue Generation, Security And Law Enforcement Commission to rejig the entire revenue collection process and make it more active and less fraudulent. To him without enough IGR, there is nothing the state can, as he described as an anomaly the nonpayment of workers’ salaries when Aba alone can take care of the bills.
“Workers are being owed salary arrears up to 20 months, some are dying. The money is there but the people are not paying taxes in Aba and the little collected is diverted to private pockets. If the revenue collectors can collect one third of what is in Aba, the state will be solvent enough to meet all its financial obligations’’, he stressed.
He said his concern now is to eliminate these revenue cabals that have held the government down over the years, as well as to expose them to the general public in the overall interest of the state.
Commenting on the administration of Governor Ikpeazu, the elder statesman said Dr Ikpeazu have tried, saying if other governors did like him Abia could have been a better place. He said that the governor faced a criminal charge for two years, during his first tenure and survived it. He argued that Ikpeazu was able to open up many roads that were inaccessible in Aba. So he will finish the remaining in this four years’’, adding that it is for this reason that he is being supported to ensure that ‘’we reach out to collect all the IGR in Aba because without Aba there is no 17 local government areas of the state’’.