Enugu: Applause as Ugwuanyi revives ICC project

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Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi
Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi
  • Secures assembly’s approval for bailout fund, loan

WORKERS and pensioners in Enugu State who are being owed several months of pensions and gratuity are expected to heave a sigh of relief any moment from now.

Reason: The Enugu State House of Assembly has approved a loan request of N14.2 Billion presented to it by by Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State. Vanguard gathered that the N4.207 billion bail-out funds designed by the Federal Government to ease financial difficulties in payment of workers salary arrears is part of the N14 billion.

The N4.2 billion was said to have been earmarked for payment of pensions and gratuity of workers who have not received their entitlement’s in the past 14 years while N10 billion will be deployed to infrastructural development.

The bulk of those who were being owed their retirement benefits are teachers and civil servants in the various parastatals, agencies and departments. The state EXCO met and approved the loan request on Monday night.

The immediate past administration of Sullivan Chime was alleged to have plunged the state debt profile, both domestic and external, to an all-time high of N62.8 billion.

Assembly’s approval

Further investigations revealed that the Assembly’s approval, shrouded in secrecy, was meant to douse public outcry that may trail the loan request when juxtaposed against the suffocating debt profile hanging on the states’ neck.

A source had told Vanguard that, “the government is not owing worker’s salaries. The bail-out accruable to Enugu State is meant for the payment of pension arrears and salaries due to casual workers. This is coming as Governor Ugwuanyi decided to take over and complete some projects, which former governor Chimaroke Nnamani started but were abandoned by Chime.

Of all the alleged atrocities committed by Chime’s administration, none had elicited public outcry and condemnation than the allocation of land at the Enugu International Conference Centre, ICC.

Situated at the three-arm zone, former governor Chimaroke Nnamani had in 2003, commenced construction of the edifice with ultra-modern facilities to place Enugu State on the world map of tourism, expose the rich cultural heritage of the people, generate revenue that will serve as a buffer especially now that there is economic downturn and create employment for the teeming unemployed youths.

The ICC, which had gone beyond 80 percent completion haven gulped over N3 billion was abandoned by Nnamani’s successor, Chime.

At Chime’s inception of office, he had during a chat with newsmen, vowed not touch the ICC even with a 10 meter pole hinging his stance on none availability of records relating to the ICC handed over to his administration.

However, a dramatic twist came when at the twilight of his administration last year, portions of land at the ICC were allocated to friends and cronies, which elicited a resolution from the Enugu State House of Assembly, ordering the executive to stop and revoke further allocation of land at the ICC.

Ugwuanyi draws political line

Apparently not swayed by the pronounced goodwill he enjoyed that culminated in his election victory at the expense of infrastructural development in the state, Governor Ugwuanyi, moved last week, to salvage the rot at the ICC.

Ugwuanyi, who was conducted round the centre, assured that his administration would ensure that the objectives for which the centre was started would be duly realized.

When the governor arrived the centre much rescue work was in progress as bulldozers and other heavy machineries were deployed to not just clear the premises of overgrown grass and trees but also to safeguard it against further vandalism.

The governor noted that the Conference Centre is in the heart of Enugu City, and can attract prospective investors and make the state a choice investment destination for all.

He ordered that the wall of the centre be painted and the dilapidated fence be remoulded to prevent further vandalism of the centre.

With the stance of the Governor against his predecessor, Chime, residents are upbeat that a line of departure may have been marked on the rosy relations between him and Chime, which observers are apprehensive about, vis a vis developmental stride of this administration.

Developmental strides

Words on the streets of Enugu hold that had Ugwuanyi not stopped the allocation of land and erection structures at the ICC, he may have shot himself on the foot for a prospective second term bid in 2019.

A dependable source told Vanguard that allocation of land at the ICC by Chime was the height of impunity of the administration. He went further to state that Ugwuanyi would have lost the goodwill of the people had he not revoked the private building projects going on at the centre.

Applause greets move

Ray Nnaji, who had written a petition to the Economic Financial Crime Commission, EFCC, asking the commission to investigate Chime over the issue, commended Ugwuanyi for rising above parochial political interests to salvage the centre.

Nnaji told Vanguard that, ”now that Ugwuanyi has revoked the allocation, that industry, ICC, will no doubt, generate jobs for our teeming unemployed youths and will put Enugu State on the world map of tourism. If this is the only thing Ugwuanyi will do in his tenure, he has done well.” (Vanguard)

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  1. It was a very negative commentary on the Chime administration that for the entire 8 years of that regime it never showed interest in the International Conference Centre project. Instead he annexed part of that sprawling edifice and shared out to his cronies.
    Ugwuanyi, well done for this restorative move. Please remain focused.

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