Enugu: Between Money Allocated & Embezzled


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Enugu: Between N57.1 Billion Allocated And N52 Billion ‘Embezzled’




Igbonekwu Ogazimorah
Enugu State Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism 



February 1 2006  


By way of commenting on the position of the Government on such claims as alleged vast embezzlement of public funds and the character, ownership and objectives of various business investments (that is, of individuals and groups who have found a haven in Enugu State since the rebirth of democracy in 1999), it becomes necessary to restate that Government would not condescend to trading of words with political opposition elements and eventual muckrakers. We would rather allow our handiworks and history to engage them in a duel.

Indeed, Government considers it inappropriate to rise in fervour against such outbursts which hardly veil the political colourations of their bearers, even as we strongly encourage healthy enquiries and well thought out comments on the finances of the State.
As stated well ahead of this season and as variously reinforced in the conduct of businesses of government, the democracy that we strive to fully attain, has its major anchors in dialogue, debate and popular participation. The Government of Enugu State, under the leadership of Governor Chimaroke Nnamani, has characteristically exhibited these cannons of democracy flow, hoisted on the crest of public communications which make healthy enquiries and responses easier.

And having been in this business this long, Government easily recognises the taints which blur, and the discernible venoms of elements of political opposition bent on typecasting the person of Governor Nnamani and some of his aides as financial villains and pillagers of funds which the same elements of opposition know are never in existence.
All activities of the administration of Governor Chimaroke Nnamani are founded on a governmental philosophy which underscores a relentless pursuit of investments and investors in a state that, by May 1999, was almost caving in under the yoke of decades-old Civil Servant state. The deliberate government policy to attract investors to our state has yielded a plethora of results. One of such is that, by 1999 when this administration came on board, Enugu had less than five banks operating in its vicinity but today, a conservative estimate of 50 of such banking outfits are at present in the state. Through our red-carpet reception for investors, aggressive softening of the investment climate and bending over backwards to negotiate space for location of investments in our state, companies like Coca-Cola, Seven-Up and myriad others find their investments incomplete except they graced the hallowed grounds of Enugu State. Our biggest haul was the multi-billion Naira AMA Breweries, largest investment outside Europe, cited in Enugu State, for which God used us to facilitate. Sure we deserve kudos for this spatial investment expansion.

In the same vein, the actual people’s economy – micro-enterprises - grew from 19, 000 units of one-hundred-dollar investment to over 234, 000 such initiatives between June 1999 and June 2005, and it is still counting. For businesses in excess of one thousand dollars as take off fund, Enugu has witnessed the influx of over 21, 000 to add up to the existing 9, 000 at the dawn of democracy.
And for businesses whose operations are in the so-called million Naira regions, Enugu has had such impressive share typical of polities which harbour adequate confidence for people’s investment.
It is with this same zeal that we throw our arms wide to receive every investor in our state. Our target is that if we could encourage a ventilation of the otherwise investment-drab space with a large dosage of investments, coupled with aggressive expansionist drive of government, our people would be the better for it and we would be burrowing unmatchable imprints on the sand of time.
The latest from the pouch of historical revisionists among us is a cache of wild claims and allegations that border on misappropriation of government funds running over N50 billion against the governor and another several billions against some officials of his government. They contain a deluge of laughable and obviously naïve, though boringly recycled, accusations.
This hacking trend, as can be easily discerned, has failed woefully when such high-blown monetary figures fail dismally when placed side-by-side with the real allocation of funds to Enugu State since 1999. At least, it is on verifiable record that starting with the allocation of One hundred and thirty nine million for the month of June 1999, the total allocation to the present administration, as at November 2005 is N57.1 billion. This places the state third from the bottom bracket of states collecting the lowest from the revenue allocation.
As already fully publicised by the Office of the Federal Minister of Finance, Enugu is known to have received the total of N8. 6billion for the year 2000; N6.1billion for year 2001; N6. 5billion for 2002; N8.8billion for 2003 and N12.9billion for year 2004. For the yet uncompleted 2005, government of Enugu State received the total of N12.4 billion. This comes to a grand total of N57.1billion Naira, as Federation Account allocation to the Government of Enugu State.
This meagre earning notwithstanding, Enugu has embarked on an aggressive developmental stride that promises reckoning in history. It is with this same lean resource, far worse and indeed abysmal in the first tenure of this administration, that the government executed phenomenal development projects, including over 500 kilometres of roads, boreholes, rural electrification, housing development and health institutions.

In the running second tenure, this government has irreversibly set in more daring strides to attain, to the envy of others;
1. Dualization of the seven kilometer Chime Avenue in New Haven,
2. Completion of the stately Golf Course Housing Estate,
3. Commencement and completion of the Chime Avenue\Nza Street Link Road,
4. 97 per cent completion of the first road tunnel in Nigeria, linking Ogui Road, from the Artisan end, with the Okpara Avenue,
5. 92 per cent completion of the dazzling International Conference Centre,
6. 72 per cent completion of the International Conference Centre,
7. 94 per cent completion of the phenomenal 162-building projects of the permanent site of the Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT), with an irreversible deadline of February 14 set in motion to relocate students from their present location. Indeed, a committee has been set up to ensure this movement which is going on at a commendable pace, among others.

It is then a wonder to us that not only that these opposition elements find pleasure in bandying high figures which they claim to have been embezzled, they further seek to ascribe ownership and control of various business enterprises which have found bases in Enugu since 1999 to Governor Chimaroke Nnamani.

These claims even become more laughable when viewed from the background that, more than 60 per cent of government earnings within this period went into salaries and general administration, not to talk of the government’s laudable foray into phenomenal development projects that have earned Enugu thumbs-up from development partners, the presidency, donor agencies, the party hierarchy, the media, the recent benchmarking exercise and every well-meaning Nigerian that ever set foot on the Coal City state.
Sure political revisionism can fire the urge to belittle our strides, but can they diminish the fact that, after a tiresome trek round Enugu State government projects, pleasantly surprised, President Olusegun Obasanjo had said, What I saw in Enugu today; the way things are developing,…Enugu City will soon be the envy of most other states who will want to come and see how it has been done in Enugu…”? Or the President’s various commendations of the State government at several fora, both local and international. Or Chief Tony Anenih, the PDP Chairman, Board of Trustees’ statement: “With the money the state gets every month, we did not expect him to put up this…” Or Dr. Ahmadu Ali, PDP Chairman: “This young man of talent and intellect has put all his intellect and talent into the resources and development of Enugu State; his state is at the bottom in the revenue allocation but his achievements… show that he is an expert in the management of men and resources.” Or even that of
Ambassadors of the European Union or several others who have visited our state? Sure, all these men can’t be wrong while a couple of renegades exploiting the license of democracy and freedom of speech, right!

We will take the claims of the revisionists, one after the other:

Allegation No. 1. Rainbownet - N7 billion - There is no doubt that a business organisation called the Rainbownet Communications Limited exists and does business in South Eastern States as may be the case in other regions where their network operations are rendered. In fact, its wireless telecommunication services are evident all over these areas including Enugu State. It is the same way that the MTN, V-mobile, Globacom and other telecom companies do businesses in Enugu State.
Yet, the fact of its doing business in Enugu does not mean that it is owned by the Governor, Chimaroke Nnamani. Indeed, it can be said to be one of the businesses that moved into Enugu State at the dawn of the new era, with such level of confidence reinforced in the system by the policies of the Federal Government on telecommunications and the right business climate induced by the Enugu State Government. We believe that the Rainbownet must have gone through the National Communication Corporation (NCC’s) competitive and transparent bidding process for the acquisition of its license, which, we understand, also involves a State Security Service scan. We cannot see where the Enugu State government comes into it. In case anyone is interested in its genealogy, we believe that the Corporate Affairs Commission should be ready to provide the names of its owners since it is in the public domain.
On its part, government works hard to create such hospitable business environment which induces investment and generate employment for the people of the State. We are glad that Rainbownet is doing business in the South East. Governor Nnamani, as a person, does not own it and does not run it. In that vein, government does not know whether it is worth seven billion Naira or dollars, and is not interested in the volume of cash deployed by the promoters of the organisation or any other in their operations.

Allegation No. 2: Cosmo 105. 5 FM – N400 million - This new trend radio broadcasting organisation also operates in Enugu State and possibly reaches to coverage areas beyond the State but it is not owned by the Governor. Government knows neither the quantity of fund it started with nor the current value in its operations.
We are sure that the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), which granted the license for operation to the owners of this modest one-duplex radio station license, must have subjected its bidding to an unmitigated rigour for transparency and accountability before awarding it the license. Indeed, against the backdrop of the healthy new policy of the Federal Government on Communications, it is gladdening to the people of Enugu State that the investors found our environment fertile to set their funds and operate such businesses which provide employment for our people.

Allegation No. 3: Renaissance University – N5 billion – The Government of Enugu State is aware that among the new universities which received certificates of operations from the National Universities Commission (NUC), is a Renaissance University billed for academic activities in Enugu State. It is not owned by the Governor, Chimaroke Nnamani, nor is it known to government that its operations are in the value of five billion Naira.
In fact, what is generally known as the operations of the new university is an on-going fencing of some tracks of land, with perhaps a couple of buildings at various stages of foundation. This, as we may believe cannot even form a fraction of the volume of fund alleged to have been sunk into the university. They are verifiable facts.

Allegation No. 4: Renaissance University Teaching Hospital – This is one other surprising claim of the political opposition, whose roots can hardly be determined. In the first place, it cannot be springing from the same Renaissance University which has not even come into operations. And while the government of Enugu has no knowledge of such anywhere in Enugu State, it remains a wonder why a university which has not set up even an administrative building would elect to chase such fund consuming project as a teaching hospital. But whichever one the owners of the university prefer, it is entirely their business.

Allegation No. 5: Capital City Autos Limited – N500 million – This auto dealing firm has also been in operations in Enugu State for sometime. It is true that the State Government has had car supply transactions with the organisation and as records will show, such transactions have always been at normal competitive pricing, with the dealers – Capital City Autos – representing the Peugeot Automobiles as distributors and government as end-user buyers. These purchases are open, competitive and got at unbeatable prices that they could ever be procured from anywhere. These claims are verifiable.
As such, these transactions cannot translate into the Governor, Chimroke Nnamani, owning the auto firm. Government is not in a position to know how much it is worth, both at inception and at current operations.

Allegation No. 6: Mea Mater Elizabeth High School – N4 billion – Government is thankful to the current investment climate leading to individuals and groups coming into Enugu to do business. In fact, the realisation of a school as the Mea Mater Elizabeth High School is worthy of commendation, having saved parents the horror of taking children to so far away places as Lagos, Abuja or Port Harcourt for a mere decent high school, which should be available within every manageable distance.
The Enugu state government, being irrevocably committed to bringing investors to the state, assisted in the various stages of discussion leading to formation of healthy community relations, co-operation and release of lands to virtually all such laudable investments in its state, Mea Mater Elizabeth inclusive, but that is where it ends. This, then, is very far from the truth as the Governor is neither the owner nor the personal facilitator of the worthwhile project.

Allegation No. 7: Vast Estate near Trade Fair Complex – N12 billion – The Government of Enugu State had, since inception, initiated and completed some housing estates. These, as the Ebeano Housing Estate, Golf Course Estate and the on-going Loma Linda Estate, which are offered publicly at market competitive value and are owned by individuals who were able to pay up when due. Governor Chimaroke Nnamani owns only one building in the Ebeano Estate at the Chime Avenue/Ogui Road intersection.
Government, therefore, is not aware and Chimaroke does not own any such vast estate springing up ‘somewhere near the Trade Fair Complex.’

Allegation No. 8: Palatial Estate at Agbani – N8 billion – The country home of Governor Chimaroke Nnamani in his hometown, Agbani, is a mere five-bedroom duplex with an attached reception centre and garden peyote. If this is what is called a vast billion Naira palatial estate, it is possible that the current trend in highfaluting figures will soon price simple duplexes beyond the reach of citizens.

Allegation No. 9: Palatial Estate in Forest Close, GRA – N5 billion – This area of Enugu metropolis is like a fixed zone of elite habitation and its plots are mostly in the hands of establishment persons and institutions. Government is not aware of any such estate being claimed to have consumed billions of Naira. G.R.A Enugu, as other GRAs, remains quite conservative and almost resistant to urban renewal efforts of government. It would have been a welcome and highly applauded if the development claimed is taking place as we are certain that even the construction would offer jobs to our teeming youth. But simply as any other falsehood bandied, it does not exist.

Allegation No. 10: Marlum Nigeria Limited – It is true that the mentioned construction firm is involved in the vast infrastructure development currently undertaken by the Government of Enugu State. Indeed, Marlum…is not the first international construction firm employed by the present administration. In the first tenure of the Chimaroke administration, another international company, the Strabag, was employed to do the roads and some other projects. Using Marlum, as government does, falls within the tradition of engaging reputable international construction companies for the projects of Enugu State. And as repeatedly stated, it is good business for government to use one company which does not necessarily have to demand early monetary mobilisation to move into new sites.
Indeed, government finds it economical to favour the bidding of such a company which, on account of its current involvement with other projects of the same government, can move into sites prior to financial mobilisation and which can also key into such deals as contractor-financing and short season drafts with the banking institutions.
However, if any person feels strongly about getting to find out who owns this construction company or any other firm in operation in Enugu State, we believe that the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) will readily supply the data needed to appreciate such structures of ownership and control.

Allegation No. 11: Local Government accounts – It is a wonder to Government that any person or persons would view the joint state/local government account system of Enugu State as abnormal since this is statutory and practiced across the country. Enugu State Government, accordingly, discharges its statutory obligations in such accounts and has never exceeded constitutional provisions in matters attendant upon the practice.

Beyond bandying figures:

As declared above, we are not in doubt that cheap propaganda and fleeting political capital are sought in these bandied figures. But we know that Nigerians know that if Enugu State has received a total of N57. 1 billion between June 1999 and November 2005, having fully discharged its salary obligations and cost of general administrations, which took over 60 per cent of the entire allocations; having also executed such vast development projects for which it is now globally acclaimed; this indeed reveals an exemplary capacity for husbanding meagre resources.
We are not aware of any law all over the world that prevents friends, associates and relatives of people in government from conducting legitimate, transparent and above-board businesses in anywhere they choose. This is as long as such businesses do not contravene any law of the land and are done in an atmosphere of transparency, integrity and devoid of undue influence and nepotism.

The prong of our highly burnished involvement with international, non-partisan donor agencies in operation in our state is our accountability and integrity. This has ensured that Enugu is about the most fecund ground for partnership between these agencies and government. Those who ever had dealings with these agencies know that one of their paramount criteria is credibility, accountability and transparency. Right now, the Public Expenditure Management and Accountability Review of the World Bank is in Enugu State for a sustainable partnership arrangement. Enugu, as well as three others are chosen for this in the federation. This exercise ensures that the account of the state is subjected to rigorous scrutiny to ensure transparency and accountability. It is also on record that the British Department for International Development (DFID)’s Partnership for the Transformation of Health System (PATHS), the School Meal Plus Programme, SLGP, LEEMP, SJG, the Community policing programme
which picked Enugu as a model state, and myriad others, are frontline programmes of our partnership with these agencies. The whole world knows that these agencies thrive in an atmosphere of accountability and transparency.

We demand that rather than muckraking and attempt at vilification, the government should continue to be praised and emulated. The volume of these fabrications and concoctions makes it urgent for Nigerian authors to look the way of Enugu to recruit future fiction writers and figure jugglers. And since delivering democracy dividends has remained the ultimate currency, the ability to deliver, even in a tight funding scenario, is indicative of a high quality of leadership and for which we shall continue to say,

To God be the Glory.



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