With it’s consistent maintenance of below bottom position in the ease of doing business index in Nigeria and total absence of government’s conscious efforts to change the tide, Imo state is actually heading for the rocks as far as investments and business opportunities that could crash down unemployment rate and rapidly boost the state’s economy are concerned.
Nigerian Newsguide investigations reveal that the Eastern Heartland as it stands now, is in a pitiable condition going by the way businesses and companies are folding up and relocating to other states and cities with friendly business environments.
While Imo is chasing investors away, Abuja, Ogun and Enugu are harvesting from the obvious business indifference of the southeast state.
The latest investment that Imo state lost to Abuja, Nigerian Newsguide can authoritatively report is the world class medical laboratory Research Institute worth about 2billion Naira and owned by Everight Diagnostics Ltd.
The founder and CEO of Everight Ltd, Mr Everest Okpara an Imolite and a US trained international Medical Laboratory Researcher and Administrator, was reportedly forced out of Imo state near middle of this year after all his efforts targeted at establishing world class Research Institute in collaboration with expatriate experts were frustrated by the powers that be in Imo.
Our medium gathered that neither Gov. Hope Uzodimma nor the state Ministry of Health was willing to assist and encourage the investor in his vision to hit the ground running with the investment, hence his relocation to Abuja where government apparatus was deployed to get him a place and other enablements which eventually led to the establishment of the facility that is about to take off and would employ at least 200 workers in the first instance.
A source close to Everight boss said the man was so frustrated in Imo even when he was the only investor whose sophisticated facility along Bank Road in Owerri was certified and approved by Nigeria Centre for Disease Control NCDC as Covid-19 test centre, the only one in Imo and second in the whole of Southeast.
Nigerian Newsguide learnt that almost all the tests done at Everight Diagnostics Ltd at the heat of Covid-19 pandemic which ran into several millions of Naira at the instance of the state government, through the Ministry of Health were not paid for, not even a letter of appreciation written to commend the company came from the state government yet they kept bringing samples for testing.
Apparently irked by this level of ingratitude and economic loss incurred at his company, Everight boss sought to set up another investment to help fund the existing one in Owerri to employ more of his kinsmen, he was again treated without a drop of mercy by the government hence his decision to move to Abuja where he was well welcomed and given red carpet reception and all enabling environment, no wonder Abuja is ranking number one in the ease of doing business index in Nigeria.
Another dangerous information available to us, is that the mega Everight Diagnostics Ltd, housing NCDC test center along Bank Road in Owerri will soon be shut down over seven-years arrears of tax imposed on the company by Imo Inland Revenue Service, IIRS led by it’s Managing Director Mr Justice Okoye.
The said tax which is in several millions of Naira is reportedly calculated by IIRS alone without the record books of Everight Ltd to ascertain whether they have made gain since 2013 the revenue agents started their unreasonable calculation of tax arrears or not.
A source still close to Everight boss said their facility in Imo has been operating at a loss since inception as their head office in Lagos is unfortunately funding the one in Owerri.
“The target of our boss in establishing Owerri branch of Everight was to bring his investment closer home in order to employ more Imolites. But since then, Mr Everest Okpara who owns Everight Diagnostics Ltd world-wide 100 percent has been at the receiving end of all manner of insults, unhealthy criticisms and lack of government encouragement by way of providing good and conducive environment for the business to survive. Our office in Owerri may shut down soon due to outrageous and huge tax imposed on us from IIRS boss and his team.”
Our reporter who visited some business offices in Imo observed that the wave of unreasonable tax demands by Imo revenue agents since January this year are killing and strangulating such businesses hence the suspicion that many of them may shut down or relocate to other states because the taxes given to them outweigh the total value of their businesses in assets, income and profits.
Even media house s in Imo are not spared in this dangerous wave of outrageous tax demands by IIRS.
Efforts to speak with the IIRS Boss Mr. Okoye proved abortive as at the time of filing this report.