Full Text of Maurice Iwu’s letter to Governor Okorocha on the sad state of Imo State Economy
THIS is a follow-up to the brief meeting you had with the chairman of Imo Economic Development Initiative, IEDI, Professor Maurice Iwe on January 1, 2018. At the said meeting, Your Excellency requested to be briefed further on the activities of our association.
We thank Your Excellency for the opportunity and the keen interest you have shown in the activities of the Imo Economic Development Initiative. This initiative started from informal discussions among Imolites resident in Lagos. They later extended that discussion to include those of us living in Abuja and Owerri. Our first formal meeting was held on April 1, 2017. Our objective is to bring Imo elites together to address development challenges of Imo State and by extension the southeast zone and our country Nigeria. The Imo Group is registered with the CAC as ‘Imo Economic Development Initiative.
We seek primarily to contribute to the development of Imo State through private sector funding and leveraging on available federal and state governments resources. Our membership is made up of key stakeholders in Imo State including captains of industry, members of the academia, technocrats, retired senior military and security personnel, as well as other professionals of Imo State origin.
At our meetings, we have reviewed commissioned papers on various aspects of the socio-economic development of our state and suggestions have been made on possible ventures that would empower our people, create wealth, and reduce poverty – while at the same time yield benefits to promoters. We are greatly encouraged by the progress members of IEDI have made in areas such as agriculture infrastructure, projects on skills acquisition and exploring Federal resources in energy, industries reactivation and health care development.
Projects in information technology are being articulated by some of our members to prepare our state to participate meaningfully in the IT-driven knowledge economy.
However, we are concerned about the current state of the economy of Imo State, as underlined by certain figures available to us and from our observations.
A review of the states’ sustainability index, a report which profiles the viability and sustainability of states shows that Imo State ranked number 22 in the whole country, a marked decline from the 17th position it occupied on the same index three years ago (2015).
We are concerned about the rising domestic debt. As at 31 December 2016, according to the Debt Management Office, Imo State was owing 93.27 Billion Naira, up from 26 Billion in 2011.
Ease of Doing Business
We are concerned about our poor position in the ease of doing business ranking in the country. We are currently ranked 34th out of 36 states. With such a dismissal rank, Imo has little or no hope of attracting new businesses to alleviate the unemployment and generally boost the economy of the state.
We are concerned about the poor contribution of our legacy industries to job creation efforts, despite considerable government investment in these industries.
These legacy industries include ADAPALM, Standard shoe, Cardboard and Packaging, and Resin and Paint Industry.
We are concerned about the obvious low activity level of international multilateral funding and donor agencies assisted projects in the state. In the past, funds from these organizations had gone a long way in assisting the delivery of government projects.
We are concerned by the low level of participation by the state in federal government intervention funding mechanisms especially in agriculture, health and SMEs activities.
We are concerned about the transportation challenges especially in Owerri municipality. These challenges have been heightened by the stopping of tricycles from plying the roads without the provision of an adequate alternative means of mass transit.
Government Financial Obligations
We are concerned about the economic stagnation in the state. We believe this is as a result of poor money circulation within the lower strata of the society. We suggest that government should ensure that salaries are paid as and when due to minimize the hardship in the state.
In conclusion, we are of the view that if effort is made, and measures introduced, to improve our rankings in various crucial indices; pay workers, pensioners and contractors as and at when due, key into external and alternative funding sources as well as find a lasting solution to urban mass transit issues; the economy of the state will improve considerably.
We have highlighted some of the issues which are of great concern to us. We hope His Excellency will accept them in good faith.
We wish you a happy 2018.
Prof. Maurice M. Iwe
Chairman, Imo Economic Development Initiative, IEDI