Barely One year into Governor Emeka Ihedioha’s first term in office, Imo State Government’s debt profile has hit an unsustainable level with its recent breach of a public and Private Partnership Agreement with five investors amounting to over a sum of ₦25,000,0000,000 (Twenty Five Billion Naira).
A reliable source within the has it that sometimes in April, 2019, the Imo State Government (IMSG) advertised some concession assets for the purposes of generating internal revenue for the state, and several investors bided and won same. Consequently, the Government signed Special Concession Agreements with the investors.
Having fulfilled all the obligations in the agreements, the investors mobilized their sub-contractors to the sites and commenced work on the project after the ground work was laid by the Imo State Government in accordance with the tenor of the Agreement.
Report has it that surprisingly, on the 6th and 7th of June, 2019, contrary to the Agreement between the parties, the various Concession Assets were invaded by armed operatives and the personnel of Imo State Government who thereafter arrested some of the personnel and took them to the Police Station. The construction equipment, building materials and Company’s personal properties were confiscated and the concession asset taken over by the personnel of the Imo State Government.
Sources also hinted that these investors have started taking steps to recover the amounts already expended on the projects and monetary claims of over ₦25,000,000,000.00 (Twenty Five Billion Naira).
For a state with less than ₦6billion IGR, it means the government may spend at least 24 months paying the debt which may further plunge the state into further debts.
There is a rising fear in some quarters within the Imo State government about the possibility of the Central Bank of Nigeria, complying with the demands of the investors, in line with the MoU guiding the concession. This is coupled with the alleged strong political connection of the Investors, to the Presidency, as notable Aso Rock officials are believed to have thrown their weight behind the steps about to be initiated against the Imo state government. The investors have also secured the service of a foremost Abuja based lawyer to enforce the terms of the company’s agreement with the Imo state government, by putting the relevant authorities, including the CBN, on notice.
Several prominent indegenes of the state, are also worried about the Ihedioha administration’s approach to dismantling any visible intervention, associated with the administration of his predecessor.
It is hoped, that the Imo state government will move to remedy this looming economic danger as the cost of fighting and losing this case look substantial.
The challenges of delivering on the electoral promises by the administration is so weighty, that it should not allow itself to be dragged into another avoidable crisis.