Members demand details of Bailout Fund, Paris Refunds, Constituency Funds
Govt Blames discrepancies in speech for non-Presentation
Amby Uneze in Owerri
For the first time in the life of the Imo State House of Assembly since the current administration of Governor Rochas Okorocha, the Assembly would in unison raise issues of concern to the governance of the state and wellbeing of the people as members yesterday boycotted the presentation of the 2018 budget proposal scheduled for 10a.m. at the Assembly Complex.
The lawmakers who spoke to journalists on the condition of anonymity expressed dissatisfaction over the way and manner the governor had worked with them overtime, stressing that it was high time they got their acts together so that governance could be strengthened in the state.
They said they were demanding three things from the state governor, which included furnishing them with the details of bailout funds, Paris refunds and constituency funds for the past three years.
According to them, â€œFor three years now, the governor has not implemented any of the budgets. He has not also implemented any constituency funds for constituency projects. He has not done it for us. So we are asking him now to give us accounts of last year and previous yearâ€™s budget performance.
â€œWe are demanding budget performance before we can do otherwise. We are not resuming until we see the budget performance for the last three years. Also we are demanding details of what came to the state as bailout funds, Paris refund and let us know whether they were captured in the previous budget or not. If we donâ€™t have these details, we are not resuming.â€
The lawmakers said the governor â€œshould give us our constituency projects; give us details of the bailout fund and the Paris refund. Thatâ€™s the only three demands or questions we are asking him. We are not going close to there, in fact all of us are wearing shorts and jeans.
But in swift reaction, the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Sam Onwuemeodo, alleged that the reason for the postponement of the presentation of the budget proposal was due to â€œdisturbing discrepancies discovered in the budget speech,â€ and appealed to those concerned to bear with the situation.
â€œWith utmost regret, we wish to inform the public that the announced presentation of the 2018 budget to the state House of Assembly by the
Governor, Rochas Okorocha, fixed for Tuesday (yesterday) could no longer hold, owing largely to disturbing discrepancies discovered in the budget speech. A new date for the budget presentation will as usual be made public,â€ he said.
However, the Chairman, Assembly Committee on Information, Kennedy Ibeh, also attributed the postponement to typographical error and pagination of the budget speech.
THISDAY observed that concerned Imo citizens, made up of sjournalists, government appointees and the public gathered at the assembly complex as earlier as 8a.m. yesterday and waited till 5p.m. before the news came that the budget presentation would not take place for the day.