Nigeria: Senator Says Anambra Paid N8.9 Bn Bank Charges On N25 Billion but Govt Denies

23 November 2020

Ifeanyi Ubah says Governor Obiano paid N8 billion to cash out FG's N25 billion promissory notes ahead of maturity, but state government denies allegation.

Anambra senator, Ifeanyi Ubah, has accused his home state government of squandering N8 billion to cash out N25 billion promissory notes issued by the Federal Government as a refund for its works on federal roads in the state.

Mr Ubah, who represents Anambra South at the Senate, stated this at a briefing in Abuja on Sunday.

He said Governor Willie Obiano authorised the payment of the N8 billion as bank charges so as to cash out the promissory notes ahead of their maturity.

Mr Ubah, therefore, issued the governor a 72- hour ultimatum to address the people of Anambra on his allegation or face a legal action.

But the state government has dismissed the allegation and accused Mr Ubah of political mischief.

According to Mr Ubah, the Debt Management Office (DMO) had issued two promissory notes to the state government in December 2018 and April 2019 for N10.097 billion and N15.146 billion respectively.

He said the promissory notes had maturity dates of December 28, 2020 and April 1, 2022 respectively.

Mr Ubah presented copies of documents at the press briefing concerning the transaction from the DMO. The documents were signed by the Director-General of the DMO, Patience Oniha, and the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed.

Mr Ubah said the N25 billion was to be paid in two installments.

He said, however, out of the N25 billion, the state government eventually realised only N16.1billion after the state government discounted the promissory notes at the rates of 15 per cent and 13 per cent respectively to a commercial bank, resulting in the loss of N8.85billion by the state government.

"The governor paid banks over N8 billion in order to cash out the promissory notes before their maturity dates, thereby ensuring that Anambra lost the amount from the transactions," Mr Ubah said.

According to the DMO documents presented by Mr Ubah, the amount and tenor of the first promissory note was N10, 097, 722, 436.90 and issued to the state government on December 28, 2018 with a maturity date of December 28, 2020.

The second promissory note of N15,146, 583, 655.00 was issued by the DMO on April 1, 2019 with a maturity date of April 1, 2022.

A letter from the DMO to Mr Ubah with reference number DMO/PMD/598/S.4/III/881 and dated November 16, 2020, reads in part: "The Distinguished Senator may wish to be informed that these were the only promissory notes issued to <a target="_blank" href="https://anambrastate.gov.ng/">Anambra State Government</a> which fully settled the outstanding claims of the state as approved by the Federal Executive Council and the National Assembly."

Mr Ubah further alleged: "In order for Governor Obiano to cash out on the N25 billion that hasn't matured, he had to terminate the deal by giving up 15 per cent and 13 per cent respectively of the total sums per annum.

"The governor paid about N3 billion in bank charges for N10 billion on the first promissory note, which has a tenor of two years, and paid another N4.5 billion on the second promissory note of N15 billion which has a tenor of three years."

The lawmaker vowed to petition the Anambra State House of Assembly and sue the governor, should he fail to explain to the people of the state "why he threw away N8 billion in his rush to cash out the money before the respective maturity dates."

He also said the governor failed to capture the money realised from the promissory notes in the state's annual budgets.

He also demanded an explanation from the governor on what he did with the balance of N16 billion he collected after the discounts.

He said the road projects for which the N25 billion was refunded by the federal government were executed by the administrations of former Governors Chris Ngige and Peter Obi.

Mr Ubah also alleged that Mr Obiano prevented the Federal Commissioner for Works in the state from rehabilitating roads in his constituency which he said the governor has continued to neglect.

Responding through a statement, however, the state Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, C-Don Adinuba, denied the allegations.

He said the state government did not raise any money from "the Debt Management Office or the Federal Ministry of Finance under a bond, or any financial instrument from any institution or organisation.

"Our record of prudent financial management and integrity is well acknowledged far and near. It is tough to speculate how the senator came about the phantom N25 billion bond which Anambra State purportedly raised surreptitiously from the DMO/Federal Ministry of Finance."

The commissioner said Mr Ubah simply concocted figures to arrive at the so-called discount.

Mr Adinuba challenged Mr Ubah to proceed to court as he threatened.

"The Anambra State Government is advising the senator to proceed to court immediately against it because no such amount or anything near it was lost in order to get discounts on the tranches of payment to the state government through promissory notes of the Federal Government of Nigeria," Mr Adinuba stated.

The commissioner further said it is awful to see a federal lawmaker manufacture figures, "driven solely by an ambition to become, by all means, the next Anambra State governor.

"Acts like this diminish the peddler, and proceeding to court with manufactured figures will bring such a person further to odium and public ridicule.

"If Senator Ubah fails to go to court with his fanciful figures and ideas, he has to resign from the Senate.

"The legislature, especially the Senate, is for thoughtful men and women who have prepared themselves for public service in the finest tradition.

"If he refuses to resign honourably, the people of the Anambra South senatorial zone know what to do."

Mr Adinuba further questioned the motive of Mr Ubah.

"Ifeanyi Ubah and his hirelings are the only traducers of Anambra State's exceedingly impressive financial management," Mr Adinuba said.

"It is a conundrum that someone should be de-marketing the very state he wants to rule by all means.

"Whoever advised him to embark on this trajectory of manufactured facts just to be in the news did him a terrible disservice," Mr Adinuba said.

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