*Asks Gov. Ugwuanyi to account for N136bn spent in one year —
The future of generations of Enugu State people has been mortgaged by huge debts, according to a group known as “Enugu State Collectives” (ESC).
Raising the alarm on the state’s crippling debt burden, ESC has, in a statement issued in Enugu and made available to Eyeway, asked Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi to explain how he spent about N136.04 billion, a large chunk of it (N58.36bn) borrowed within the first year of the current administration in the state.
ESC chairman Chief Ndubisi Ogbu, who signed the statement, lamented that the huge loans borrowed by the state government were not tied to specific projects. “We recall that the immediate past administration of Sullivan Chime was alleged to have left a debt (both domestic and external) of N62.8 billion,” the group said. “It is clear … that the future of our children and great-grandchildren has been mortgaged by these huge debts and we need explanations on what is happening.”
The group arrived at the figure of N136.04bn spent in one year by summing up what the state government received from the Federation Account (N59.6 billion), the loan requests approved for the governor by the state House of Assembly (N58.36bn), and internally generated revenue (N18.08bn) within the same period. The House of Assembly was said to have approved the loans in three tranches – N14.207bn, N30bn and N14.16bn.
ESC stated that what the state owed did not include the huge debts owed primary school teachers, local government staff as well as retired and serving civil servants some of which were six months’ arrears of salaries. “The people of Enugu State deserve explanations from the governor on how public fund is spent,” it said.
The statement added: “The governor had, shortly after assuming office, requested the House to approve N14.207 billion as presented to it by the Enugu State Executive Council which was granted. The loan was said to have been designed to ease financial difficulties in payment of workers’ salary arrears, development of infrastructure as well as payment of pensions and gratuities of workers who had not received their entitlements in the previous 15 years.
“The bulk of those who were being owed their retirement benefits are teachers as well as civil servants in the various parastatals, agencies and departments.
“Again, the House also asked the government to borrow additional N30 billion while the latest approval for another loan of N14.16 billion was last month.”
The Enugu State governor has yet to respond to ESC’s statement. He has not taken phone calls placed by Eyeway, nor has any of his aides issued a response on his behalf.