The governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ebonyi State, Senator Sonni Ogbuoji, has promised to revamp the economy of the state through a positive and productive approach, as against what he called the negative economics of the administration of Governor David Umahi, if elected.

Ogbuoji said this, yesterday, when he released his manifesto to the public. He lamented that whereas the state had hit a double digit internal revenue in 2014, prior to Umahi’s administration, the state has been bedevilled by poor revenue generation.

“What is most surprising is that the state, under Umahi, introduced very high tax regime with a wrong intention of shoring up revenue, only to have it crash tremendously.

“Because I understand this approach can never pay, from Umahi’s evidence, I will return the state to winning ways and internal revenue prosperity, by pursuing a tax policy that is friendly, payable and encourages investment, even at the smallest scale level.”  

A stark reality of his argument is that “the 2018-second quarter report of the National Bureau of Statistics puts the half year Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of Ebonyi State at N2,463,958,566.01.

Also, in 2017 and 2016, the IGR of Ebonyi State was N5,102,902,366.82 and N2,342,092,225.07, respectively. To put this in perspective, although in 2015, when the current administration came into power, there was no record of our IGR, in 2014, the IGR of our dear state was N11,032,472,512.00.  It is important to note that at no point in our history, has residents of our state been so burdened with taxes as under the current administration. However, for some reasons, despite the increased taxes, we have recorded less revenue.

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“We‘ve seen companies that used to operate in Ebonyi relocate, including the Nigerian Bottling Company, owners of Coca-Cola. We lost the revenue they used to yield. Last year, it was scandalous that when the Nigerian Breweries staged an exhibition at the Abakaliki Stadium, their show was disrupted and the experience scared them away.

“Many small scale businesses have shut down, while house rents are no longer affordable to the average person, even those same workers who Umahi has paid half salary in the past four years have to endure higher rent because their landlords pay more in tenement rate.”

Ogbuoji enumerated seven channels through which he would tackle the economic challenge and turn Ebonyi around into prosperity.

“My administration will attract more businesses and industries to the state. We will do this by improving the ease of doing business in the state.

“My government will ensure an application for governor’s consent for land will be responded to within a maximum of five working days; require our civil servants to respond to any business query within 48 working hours; explore tax breaks for new businesses that wish to commence operations in our state; partner with the private sector to offer finance…”