Governor Rochas Okorocha has responded to critics who called for a probe into the amount spent for erecting a statue for the Liberian President, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.
The Liberian President visited Imo state recently, on the invitation of the state Governor.
You will recall that the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) alleged that Okorocha spent over N1b to erect statues and called for his probe.
In his reaction, the chief press secretary to Governor Okorocha, Sam Onwuemeodo said “First, we want to solemnly subscribe to SERAP’s call for probe. We welcome the call. Our only concern is that SERAP contradicted itself by also passing judgements.
“It would have stopped at the call for probe to show they meant well. But they went ahead to pass judgements and thereby jeopardising what should have been their innocent call for probe.
“SERAP also said the statues might have cost N1 billion. Then, how would SERAP address the issue of cost again if at the end of the probes, the amount is either far higher or far below what they quoted?
“Again, what if at the end of the probe, it is discovered that the statues were not funded from government’s purse, when SERAP had already talked about ‘apparent misuse of public resources’.
“Our concern too is that people deliberately tell unfounded lies. A week ago, all the newspapers had reports on states owing salaries and the chairman of the Imo State branch of NLC, Comrade Austin Chilakpa said the ‘state government is up to date in the payment of workers’ salary’ (see Nation newspaper, Sunday November 5, 2017, pg13).
“In other words, the state does not owe workers including teachers. On the issue of pension, the government cleared all the arrears in December 2016 and has begun to pay monthly. These pieces of information have been there in public domain.”
Jacob Zuma’s statue
According to reports, the government of Imo state had earlier spent N520m to erect a statue for the South-African President, Jacob Zuma, who also visited the state.
Zuma, during his visit, was also conferred with a title of Ochiagha Imo (The head of Imo warriors), by Eze Imo, His Royal Highness Samuel Ohiri.