…accuses him of embezzling N2bn Agric Loan
Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi state has accused the former Secretary to Ebonyi State Government, Prof. Bernard Odoh, of diverting N2bn naira Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) agric loan, meant for the State’s Civil and Public Servants.
Umahi said this happened when Prof Odoh held sway as the State Government’s scribe.
But, Prof. Odoh when contacted on phone disnissed the allegations as ranting.
Prof Odoh said: “I’ll address the issue appropriately in due course when it is directed to me in official manner”.
Umahi, who made the allegation against Odoh, on the sideline of his weekly broadcast to update the citizens on the efforts of his administration in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic, was reacting to the criticism about the poverty index of Ebonyi State under his administration.
Though, Governor Umahi did not mention Odoh’s name, the former SSG has been the strongest critic of his administration’s inability to tackle poverty in the State.
Odoh had in recent time, alleged that the debt profile of Ebonyi State had continued to rise geometrically due to frequent internal and external borrowings by Governor Umahi. This is even as he alleged that the people of the State had been impoverished under Umahi’s administration.
Odoh served as SSG under Umahi’s administration, but resigned one year to the end of the first tenure, accusing the Governor of highhandedness.
Recall that the National Bureau of Statistics had two weeks ago released the result of its survey of the 36 States of the Federation, which ranked Ebonyi State as the fourth most poorest State in Nigeria.
But Umahi, noted that Odoh who is criticizing his government, diverted the N2bn naira agric loan domiciled in his office as SSG to disburse to workers, using ghost workers and was never recovered.
He said the N2bn allegedly developed wings and flew out of Odoh’s office, adding, “he didn’t even give it to his people, but he claims to love them”.
The Governor said he would set up a commission of inquiry to probe the disbursement of the fund.
The Governor maintained that those criticising his administration had the opportunity to positively touch the lives of the people and never did anything; adding that his administration was doing everything humanly possible to alleviate poverty in the State.
According to him, everybody must know that you cannot fight poverty without infrastructure. And you don’t fight poverty by sharing the little money that is given to you to pay salaries.
His words: “When people talk about poverty in Ebonyi State, like I told the security council, nobody is saying there is no poverty in Ebonyi state and I’m not interested in the poverty in other states. I’m interested in the welfare of our people.
“But everybody must know that you cannot fight poverty without infrastructure. And you don’t fight poverty by sharing the little money that is given to you to pay salaries; by sharing it for people to take home. It is the most stupid thing to think about.
“I think strongly that the positions we have taken since we came on board–the empowerment and the support to our people, is second to none. We have accessed over N12bn from the CBN. One of the time, the critic of poverty in Ebonyi state who was holding a very high position (referring to Prof. Odoh when he was SSG) supervised the N2bn agric loan and he used ghost workers to give away the N2bn and it is not recovered. He didn’t even give it to his people, but he claims to loves his people. By EXCO meeting this week, we are going to set up a commission of inquiry to look into that wickedness dished out to our people.
“I want to assure our people that we are doing everything humanly possible to fight poverty and today is far better than yesterday. We met poverty and we fight poverty. We may not eliminate it totally, but if things are continuous in this direction, poverty will be written off, though not hundred percent.
“I don’t want our people to join that stigma that they are poor. We are all working hard. Ebonyi was created and there was no money to take off. All the past Governors did their best. We are struggling in the midst of nothing. We cannot use the money for salaries to do any other thing than to pay salaries. But I think we have fared well with God’s special grace”.