Almost four months after taking over as Governor of Imo State, Hope Odidika Uzodimma has disclosed that he met an empty treasury and without handover note from former Governor Emeka Ihedioha when he (Uzodinma) assumed office on January 15, 2020.
He, however, pointed out that his administration would do everything possible to plug the loopholes created by those he described as fraudsters in the state’s civil service, saying he had saved about N2b monthly after paying salaries and pensions in the 27 council areas of the state.
Uzodimma stated this yesterday in a statewide broadcast to mark his 100 days in office, insisting that he would not succumb to the ‘cabal’ who are bent on plundering the state through the civil service and retirees.
He wondered why with about 56,000 workers in the employ of state and council areas, 17,000 were captured in the income taxes, lamenting that the use of some workers Bank Verification Number (BVN), it was discovered that some had been drawing payments with multiple entries pay points in the payroll were undetected.
“Quite instructively, most of the infractions were committed through multiple entries of the same BVN for different names on the payroll. It was incredible to discover that some people earned salaries as civil servants and also earned pension as retirees.
“The situation was not helped by the sorry state of affairs I inherited. There was no handover note from the previous government, which left me with no definite starting point.
“In addition, I inherited an empty treasury and a disillusioned, disoriented and dispirited civil service. Worse still, I inherited a public service sector that was riddled with corruption and fraud.
“The amount of money that was siphoned through a public sector corruption-riddled payroll system was simply mind blowing. It was, to say the least, incredible.”
Insisting that the anomalies in payment records would be corrected, he noted that the state would henceforth have the funds to meet all recurrent expenditures, stressing that not a kobo will go to the cabal of payroll fraudsters who have held the state hostage for many years.He said he found it curious that a state with 56,000 workers only captured 17, 000 persons in its income tax otherwise known as Pay As You Earn (PAYE).
“More mesmerising is the fact that the nominal roll of pensioners have stood at 30,000 for 10 years now. This will mean that there has been no retirements in the last 10 years and no pensioner has died either,” he added. On how he was saving N2b monthly, he said, “By insisting on the enforcement of BVN records, which ties each worker to a distinct bank account, I have been able to save about N2b monthly from the wage bill of Imo workers and pensioners.”