AESID raises alarm over Umahi’s N10 billion loan request, says poverty increased by 16% in 7 years

Dave umahi, Arewa Youths, 2023

The Association of Ebonyi State Indigenes in the Diaspora, AESID has expressed utmost worries over the rising debt profile of the state.

This is coming on the heels of the approval of another loan request from the Governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi by the Court-sacked 16 members of the Ebonyi State House of Assembly for the State’s Executive arm of government.

The group said though most media reports could not mention the exact amount as the lawmakers kept the details which in sane parliamentary proceedings ordinarily ought to be deliberated on the floor of the chambers a top-secret, insider sources say a total of N10 Billion naira was being requested by the Governor “for the purposes of completion of numerous ongoing infrastructural projects in the State.”

It recalled that the speaker of the House of Assembly, EBSHA, Francis Nwifuru, who read the governor’s letter of the loan request, during a plenary further said the purpose of collecting the loan by the governor from commercial banks was to enable the state government to finish all its legacy projects.

The loan was approved in a motion moved by the leader of the house, Mr Victor Chukwu representing Ezza North-West Constituency and seconded by the Deputy Chief Whip, Mr Benjamin Ezekoma representing Ebonyi North East constituency.

The report said, “Nwifuru, however, directed the clerk of the house to make a memo to Umahi, informing him of the loan request approval to enable him to complete all the legacy projects that his administration embarked upon a few years ago.”

AESID noted that as an organization interested in accountability and the good governance of our people, it is disturbed that despite many acts of open-day looting and massive corruption ongoing in the State, mostly buried inside mixed cement concretes in roads and unwanted flyovers, the Umahi-led administration which has just about a year to go could add to the State’s domestic debts burden by asking for another N10 Billion naira from commercial banks.

“In the first place, we query the continuous use of these 16 leprous stooges of Umahi in the State Assembly who had remained sacked by an Abuja Federal High Court for defecting to the ruling All Progressives Congress APC with the Governor in November 2020 by the executive to perpetuate their evil agenda of economic plundering of Ebonyi’s paltry resources.

“Records from the Debt Management Office showed that as of December 2021, the official sub-national domestic debt profile of Ebonyi State stood at over N42 Billion. We are also aware of undisputed claims in certain quarters that the Ebonyi State government under Umahi has unofficially been making borrowings from some commercial banks in the State without due process or even recourse to the lackeys in the State’s House of Assembly. Our foreign debt profile has also skyrocketed to a whooping about $64M US Dollars. This does not include the borrowing of $150M from the Islamic Bank for the State’s ring road project.

“For a government that inherited a near-zero debt burden from its predecessor and has habitually been wasting public funds on non-economically viable or sensible projects, this latest desperation to make our poor Ebonyi a debt stock of the nation is highly condemnable and most unfortunate.

“We can conveniently bet that Umahi has in the course of his deceptive ego-driven, white elephant projects borrowed and lavished what the next government in the State could have borrowed for the next eight years. It is even most disturbing that such humongous borrowings do not translate to the establishment of even a sachet water factory that can generate a Kobo to the coffers of our economically strangulated Ebonyi State. All have been about the capital flight that mainly transits State’s funds to Umahi, the Umahis and a few of his rapacious cronies.

“As though the unconscionable squandering of public funds on frivolities is not already enough, AESID read in the media very recently about plans by the Umahi administration to spend N600M of tax-payers money to celebrate its Seventh anniversary in office. For a government which took Ebonyi’s poverty index from about 64 per cent to a whooping nearly 80% with the State now officially the poverty capital of entire Southern Nigeria, Umahi should be ashamed of celebrating the near-total debt extinction of the State’s economic life and prosperity.

“We at AESID urge the EFCC and good-spirited Nigerians to please wade in to halt these deliberate and calculated stealing of our lean resources by a government that has made hunger and starvation of the masses its official policy. AESID will take every necessary legal and remedial step towards ensuring that the Umahi government does not further take the indigenes for granted by wasting or looting the said plum sum when most families in Ebonyi cannot afford even a square meal due to the excruciatingly biting anthropogenic poverty and hardship foisted on it by the Umahi administration.

“AESID is also aware of the victory of a victim of the vexatious Cybercrime law of the State through his ebullient legal team which was recently declared illegal by a Federal High Court in Abakaliki. While we commend the judiciary for the bold decision of declaring that law as anti the spirits and letters of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, we are again worried that the presiding judge before who the victim, one Paschal Etu who has remained incarcerated in prison custody since last year the government over the said Cybercrime prohibition law could not grant the accused bail despite the judgment of the Federal High Court.

“We have been briefed that the said trial Judge, Justice Onwosi who was appointed by the Governor and has remained suspiciously compromising in matters concerning the Governor quickly adjourned the matter to another date to ‘allow him time to study the judgment’ of a brother judge. Another Judge worthy of such dishonourable mention is Justice H. I. Njoku of the State High Court II whose activities and politically-motivated judgments in the Ebonyi justice system have remained very questionable in the eyes of the common man and have since become a matter of national concern.

“We urge the Nigerian judiciary to take note of characters like Justices Onwosi, Njoku and their likes and sanction them appropriately in line with established disciplinary procedures of the National Judicial Council.

“They are under oath to serve Ebonyians and the Nigerian public and not the selfish interests of those who by virtue of their privileged elective positions appointed them as Judicial officers.

“For all we know and care, Ebonyi as a State still operates the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and all actors and key players in the State must live in observance of the laws governing the Nigerian nation”.