Financial management expert and the Social Democratic Party, SDP, governorship candidate in Imo State, Sir Okey Ezeh has assured Imo people that when elected his administration will usher in thoroughgoing diversification of the economic base of the State in order to build a local economy that will be among the three largest state economies in Nigeria.
Ezeh made this promise while receiving members of the Imo Grassroots Frontiers who visited his campaign office at New Owerri on Wednesday to convey their endorsement of his candidature.
The accomplished multinational banker emphasized that he is passionate about creating value in all ramifications, and vowed that his stewardship will reposition the economy of the State as a matter of priority.
His words: “Our economy must be well managed and the people’s resources must be used for their benefit. Our finances need to be rejigged. That is the first surgical operation I must do.
“Imo State is not efficiently managed financially as it ought to be. It earns N3.2 bn every month and spends N4.5bn. In elementary economics, the only way to stay afloat is to increase revenue or cut cost. But the successive governments have failed to do either.”
He continued: “Our IGR is a paltry N456m. We have Irrevocable Standard Payment Orders (ISPOs) which are derivable from bond proceeds we have drawn in the past. Imo has not been properly run. Borrowing money is not the problem; lots of money have been borrowed,” Ezeh decried.
He went further to disclose that Imo is 77 per cent dependent on the dwindling federal allocation, and averred that oil is a cold comfort and fleeing resource that lacks sustainability.
According to him: “Looking at the dynamics of the oil economy, countries that have had hydrocarbon fuel as mainstay are rejigging their strategy. UAE and Saudi Arabia will exit oil by 2030. Car makers like Volvo have put a deadline for 2019 to stop the production of diesel engines. Toyota will stop production of diesel engines at the end of this year. No one imports Nigeria’s oil. We might have countries like India taking our oil, but how far can that last? In the last five years, the oil economy has change dramatically, and it will continue to change.
“So, states that are dependent on allocations are living on borrowed times,” he insisted.
Ezeh however promised to open up other sectors of the state’s economy in order to create wealth and permanently keep the wolf of unemployment out of the state.
“Imo state has potential in the rubber plantation, oil palm production, cassava and cashew. We have vast resources. Agro-produce is goldmine yet untapped. What we need to do in creating opportunities for young people is adding value to these natural endowments.”