Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State has clarified that his administration has not acquired any foreign loan since its inception in 2015.
Umahi made the clarification during the re-constitution and inauguration of a Seven-man Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the disbursement and management of N2 billion Commercial Agricultural Credit Scheme of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Also sworn-in by the Governor during the event were three newly-appointed additional Special Assistants.
Umahi, obviously reacting to criticisms from some quarters pointing to rising debt profile of the State, explained that the cumulative total balance of the State’s foreign loan, which stood at $65 million, was carry-overs from previous administrations.
He noted that the bulk part of the balance is the Abakaliki Storm Water Management fund, which is still ongoing.
The Governor however acknowledged that his first foreign loan ever was the $150 million sought through the African Development Bank for the construction of the 198km Abakaliki ring road.
He flayed those working against the project, which he assured would commence by August 2020.
Umahi emphasised that setting up the Commission of inquiry was not intended to witch-hunt anybody but as a response to CBN’s demand for an investigation into the money advanced to the State.
He assured of his willingness to appear before the commission in spite of his constitutional immunity as Governor should he be required to do so by the Commission at any time, adding that his major preoccupation in so doing was to leave a clean account of his administration.
Umahi explained: “When we talked of this CAC loan, people in the Social Media started writing of witch-hunt.
“It is not a possibility at all.
“But the CBN has sent people to come and investigate all the monies that they gave to us and they have met with the Accountant-General.
“Now, what we want to do is simple, so the scope is expanded.
“I want the commission to investigate all the support given to Ebonyi State, both State and local governments, namely: all the Agricultural loans from 2015.
“Two, all foreign loans must be investigated, and I have not collected any foreign loan.
“The only loan we may collect will be the loan for the ring road.
“Unfortunately, people criticising it are the people that the road passed through their houses; it does not pass through my house.
“As at today, the total balance on our foreign loan is 65 million United States dollar, and I will tell you what the money is all about.
“None was collected in my administration; some of them started even during the time of Sam Egwu’s administration, and they are programmes for HIV, under WHO, who supervises the projects with other health partners.
“And the substantial bulk of that money is the Abakaliki Storm Water project that is ongoing.”
Umahi further charged the Commission to investigate all domestic loans while their finding should be sent to the State House of Assembly and the Fiscal Responsibility Commission for further action.
Addressing the new SAs, Governor Umahi charged them to be diligent and help the State Government in its programmes to better the lots of the State and its citizens.
Describing the job of SA on Employment as very important, he charged him to work hard to profile at least 100 youths per Development Centre for self reliance via profitable ventures.
While he charged the SA on Finance to follow-up every money released by government for retirement and factoring into the budget, he asked SA on Small and Medium Enterprises to bring his wealth of experience in increasing economic investments and entrepreneurship in the State.
The Judicial Commission of Inquiry has as its Chairman Hon. Justice Chris Eze, with Emeka Nwode as Secretary.
Its membership was drawn from the judiciary, traditional institution and academia.
The newly appointed SAs are Ojibade Ekuma for Finance; former General Manager of Ebonyi State Community Social Development Agency, Dr. Peter Mbam, for SMEs, and Hon. Chidiebere Egwu sworn-in as Special Assistant on Youth employment.