The Imo State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Hon. Declan Mbadiwe Emelumba has disclosed that the current sanitization of pensions and workers’ payroll system by Gov. Hope Uzodinma was aimed at saving money for the state the way he saved N130billion for the Federal Government as the Chairman, Senate Committee on Customs.
He said through the painstaking efforts of Uzodinma’s committee in blocking leakages in the Customs and ensuring that the Customs tariff and exercise regime was done transparently, the federal government recovered billions of naira in the exercise.
Emelumba who spoke to reporters in Owerri argued that those who are accusing the governor of inflicting pain on the workers and pensions through the verification exercises and automation of the payroll system were missing the point.
According to him, being thorough and painstaking in eliminating fraud in the system was second skin to Governor Hope Uzodinma while Imo state will ultimately be the beneficiary of his current actions.
“Go to the customs and see the work he did there. He put a stop to corruption and fraud by strengthening the collection of tariffs and exercise and ensuring that all leakages in the system were blocked. In the process, he saved N130billion for the federal government. Today, customs contribute significantly to the revenue base of the country”, he said.
The commissioner said it was that same zeal that propelled the governor to go after the cabal that was stealing billions of naira from Imo state coffers through the manipulation and paddling of the nominal roll of both civil servants and pensioners.
He disclosed that since the governor ordered forensic verification of the nominal rolls of workers and pensioners, the state has been saving N2billion monthly that would have gone to the fraudsters.
Emelumba said the governor was not only determined to replicate what he did in Customs for Imo State, but committed to ensuring that all those involved in the fraudulent activities in the past are prosecuted.
He assured that at the end of the ongoing exercise, workers and pensioners would be receiving their salaries and pensions as at when due because more money would be available to the government to pick up their bill.
He appealed to those negatively affected by the automation process to exercise more patience as the government was doing everything possible to resolve all outstanding matters quickly for the good of all.
Meanwhile, Gov Hope Uzodinma is to honor the winner of the maiden edition of the annual lmo State Shared Prosperity/democracy day essay competition as a means of encouraging secondary school students to sharpen their writing skills, knowledge of democracy, governance and current affairs.
The state Commissioner for information and strategy, Declan Emelumba announced this in Owerri after 15-year-old Miss Goodness Okpara of Anara community secondary school, emerged winner of this year’s competition.
Emelumba explained that the government instituted the essay competition in conjunction with three radio stations in Owerri to promote intellectual skills of students, deepen their knowledge of democracy as well as understand the workings of government.
According to him, the competition which was part of this year’s democracy day celebration held at IBC radio, Heartland FM and My Radio FM for the preliminary stages while the three champions who emerged from there faced themselves at the grand finale conducted at the premises of Orient FM, Owerri on Saturday.
While congratulating the winner, Miss Okpara and the runners up, Chukwuemeka John Okafor and Etoamaihe Chinaezaekpere for their intellectual prowess, Emelumba said Gov Uzodinma authorized the competition specifically to challenge the students on the knowledge of democracy and government activities.
He expressed satisfaction with the quality of the competition and announced that the winner will be crowned ” ” 2020 Ambassador of shared prosperity government” by the governor at a date to be approved by him. This is in addition to the governor’s prize which will be given to the winner the same day.
The commissioner also disclosed that the competition will be an annual affair at every democracy day, and invited more students to take an active part in future competitions.
In their remarks, members of the assessment panel, Rev Jamie Eke, Mrs. Victoria Emereonye and Mrs. Theresa Isiguso commended the governor for approving the essay competition, noting that it was a veritable ground for the discovery of talents among the students
Also speaking, the winner, Miss Okpara expressed delight for emerging victorious and pledged to work harder to make the Governor proud.