For the umpteenth time, President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday condemned state governors who steal the funds belonging to local governments through state/LG joint accounts. The surprise is that the president has failed to take action in seven years ; he is still finding faults, barely six months to the end of his administration.
Enugu State under Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has become a case study.
Acting on instruction from above, the Nsukka LG led by Barrister Walter Ozioko has just returned N100m in cash to the leadership of the state. The money was withdrawn from more than N750m the LG has received as Paris Club refunds coupled with its monthly allocation from the federation account. Each of the 17 LGs in the state received at least N600m in the month of November. While Nsukka LG has returned N100m to Government House, it was gathered, Enugu South LG has returned N40m. The remaining 15 LGs are in the queue.
President Buhari this Thursday once again condemned state governors who steal LG funds, as reported Friday by most mainstream newspapers in the country. Enugu is one of the states whose leaders have refused to hands off LG funds, in spite of the president’s several warnings.
The action of Nsukka LG confirms Enugu Monitor’s story, penultimate week, on how Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State has been trying to empty the state’s treasury into the 2023 general election fight.
We reported: “With the entrance of N6bn+ Paris Club refund into the state’s local government joint accounts, the governor has just approved two Hilux vans and one other exotic car for each of the state’s 17 council chairmen. Even thugs and hatchet writers hired as special assistants and special advisers have received brand new SUVs (‘tear-leather’) as official cars.
“The vehicles, ostensibly, are to be used by the chairmen to battle insecurity, but the reality is that they are meant to make the LG bosses feel relaxed as their monthly allocations are ravaged through the joint allocation committee.”
Allocations to the councils from the federation account are routinely parcelled to the Government House through the chief of staff. Inside Lion Building, cash is piled up from the floor to the ceiling of many rooms.
Through sponsored “solidarity” visits to Government House since after the arranged PDP primaries in May this year, N5m to N20m has been splashed in cash on each of hundreds of groups visiting the governor to express support for PDP and its selected candidates in the 2023 elections.
The state’s monthly security vote, about N1bn, and returned LG funds appear to be the main sources of the billions of naira in cash used for bazaar at Lion Building.
Meanwhile, about $50m grant from the French Development Agency to the Ugwuanyi administration to tackle water scarcity in Enugu has gone astray. And 40% of the state’s internally generated revenue is regularly diverted to the PDP campaigns in the form of “consultancy fee” to an organisation floated by Ebeano chieftains.
While Ugwuanyi fritters away the state’s resources in these ways, the salaries of civil servants are delayed, pensioners are not paid, roads are not built or maintained, water doesn’t flow from the taps, and poverty rules the roost everywhere you go in the state.
Nrashi and Ashua (cash for support or as bribe) have signposted Ugwuanyi’s pattern of governance since 2015. Believing that everyone has a price, he spends the state’s funds as though they are his private funds, often without appropriation.
Having sold PDP governorship tickets to the highest bidders and offered himself as the senatorial candidate for Enugu North, Ugwuanyi has been most unpopular in the state, though he has defaced most cities with posters and billboards. His people of Nsukka (Enugu North senatorial district) have sworn to vote against him, but he believes that since he has planted his foot soldiers as LG bosses, SAs, TAs and EAs without portfolio, he will bribe his way to the Senate and impose his business partners on the state as governor, deputy governor, House of Reps members, and House of Assembly members.
— Reported by Cyril Ujam and Kachifoo Nwobodo/Enugu Monitor