General Manager of the Owerri Capital Development Authority (OCDA), Mr Innocent Ikpamezie has said that the Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodinma has performed well in his first 100 days in office. In this interview, Ikpamezie who doubles as Special Adviser to Governor Uzodinma gives his boss a thumbs up and speaks on other issues.
Governor Uzodinma has clocked 100 days in office, as a key member of his administration, how will you assess the new Imo State government?
For me, 100 days is quite short to assess good governance but that notwithstanding, Senator Uzodimma has developed critical policy framework for the socio economic and political aspects of the state. No doubt, he has set good foundation that will undoubtedly usher the much desired development and change in Imo State. He is working round the clock to revive moribund structures, especially critical ones. Already, he has constructed and completed three major roads which are Amaigbo to Isu, Nwangele; Oparanozie street here in Owerri Municipal; and Umuaka road in Njaba. All those places are wearing new looks. Who would have believed that Oparanozie street can look this beautiful? Senator Uzodimma has presented operational vehicles to Permanent Secretaries to aid their mobility; launched and donated vehicles to security agencies for Operation Search and Flush to make Imo safer; renovated and completed the government house that houses the governor’s office and lodge; continued with ongoing road construction. Lest we forget, he paid full salaries to the appointees of Chief Emeka Ihedioha, because of his large heart, and knowing that they are all Ndi Imo, he paid them full January salary even to local government Chairmen. That for me is novel, I doubt if anyone else would have done that. In addition, Governor Uzodimma has signed some strategic laws and regulation to improve on the internal revenue generation of the state like the 2020 Revenue law. Within 100 days in office, he has turned around the Adapalm which was run aground for almost eight years. Now, Imo State is ready to generate income from palm oil as the price of crude oil has been at an all time low. Don’t forget that safe for the lockdown measure to stop coronavirus, we had started earning N1billion as Internally Generated Revenue. I must quickly add that all these and much more have been within 100 days in office; you can then imagine where Imo State will be in the next four cum eight years.
Speaking about the Owerri Capital Development Authority (OCDA) which many people consider as a witchhunting agency, how will you as the General Manager restore sanity into the system and steer it to greater heights?
One thing is obvious, Governor Uzodimma is committed to ensure the agency runs on its core value, to restore the master plan of the city, without causing people huge pain, except where it threatens laid down guidelines. Let me quickly add that the legal team has come up with a draft amendment of the extant law and building regulations to reposition the management and operational architecture of the agency. Once we get that right, every other thing will fall in place. You know that the present Edict does not take care of a somewhat 21century development control agency. I assure you that we are committed to restoring the lost glory of OCDA as the development control agency of the state. Furthermore, we intend to digitalize the agency cum state like you have in Abuja and Lagos. Already, our automation policy is ongoing as part of our reform programme. Already, since my assumption of office, we have been able to overhaul our field operations and we are still going to do more. We have set up dedicated hotlines to ensure that complaints from developers are promptly dealt with. Every transaction is done via the Single Treasury Account (TSA), nobody will collect cash from you to do anything, so most importantly, we boast of transparency. In addition, the staff have been retrained to be courteous, no staff has the right to assault anybody, except on self defense.
Don’t forget that the governor also donated two operational vehicles to us to aid our dealings, while I have refurbished the moribund tractors which is very critical in opening of roads. And most importantly, gone is the era of illegal land dealings in the agency; everyone knows that if you are caught, you will face the music, Senator Uzodimma is very clear on that. So, I assure you that with OCDA, Imo State is in safe hands.
Everyone has expressed huge concerns over the sudden drop in the price of crude oil, how will the Uzodimma team meet up with the payment of salaries, pension, road construction, and other development demands?
Disturbing, yet interesting if you ask me.
However, this government is very proactive which is why we revived moribund agencies and initiated strategic policies that will increase the internally generated revenue of the state. Moreover, as a seasoned politician who spent eight years in the Senate, Imo people will draw from the experience and exposure of Senator Uzodinma. I can tell you this for free, watch out for the governor; he will daze people with innovations because like we say in Imo, you will find the die-hard spirit akin to Ndigbo.
Almost all the roads in Owerri are undergoing repairs, tell us, does it not pose a threat for buildings especially in the metropolis, since tractors are known to shake foundations and has been blamed for building collapse in the past?
True, almost all the roads in Owerri are undergoing repairs, but I can assure you that it does not pose a threat for buildings. We have engaged proven qualified and notable construction companies who are working in line with laid down international construction principles. I can assure you that it is no more the era of quackery or substandard products. Imo people need not fear, in the coming months, our state will reclaim its pride of place.
The effects of coronavirus will no doubt affect how governance and business is done, how prepared is the state government to face the new challenges ahead?
As you can see, the Imo State government under the leadership of Distinguished Sen. Uzodimma is a proactive one. Though the state is yet to record any known case of the virus, Senator Uzodimma was one of those that immediately set up a think tank headed by Professor Maurice Iwu, a professor of Pharmacology. Further, we have put in place several isolation centers with standard facilities to take care of any recorded situation. The governor is also working hard to see that the state is not left behind in palliative packages from the Federal Government. Beyond that, the governor has provided palliatives to people. Further, we ensure that proper measures of social distancing is maintained. I am confident that before the lockdown is over, the government will come up with measures to ensure lives are protected and that our people are not starving.