Enugu youths lash out at Chime, Enugu legislature over N11bn loan

By Agbo Ngwu

Some youths coming under the banner of Better Enugu Youths Assembly, BEYA, have condemned in strong terms Enugu State House of Assembly's approval of an N11bn loan requested by Governor Sullivan Chime, describing the state legislature's role in approving the loan as “a confirmation of the fact that houses of assembly in the country exist only as a rubber stamp of the inordinate state governors.”

The youths, who lashed out at Governor Chime for mortgaging their future by taking the loan, excoriated the state legislature for failing in its basic duty of checkmating the excesses of the executive in the state. They held that “even if the present Enugu State House of Assembly, ESHA, is forgiven for its numerous laxities in standing up for their constituencies against the tyrannical tendencies of Governor Chime, its current members would one day be called to task regarding why they preferred to place the greed of one man over what is best for the generality of Enugu people by approving the said loan.”

Disclosing this in a press statement signed by its President, Mr. Val Eke and Secretary-General, Mr. Agbo Ngwu, BEYA wondered why Sullivan could not take a cue from the immediate past governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi, who as at the time of leaving office earlier this year bequeathed investments and other assets totaling N75 billion to his state. The Assembly also wondered why Sullivan would be busy conniving with ESHA to secure loans for him to complete projects for an about-to-end year when other governors are already presenting well thought-out budget proposals to their states' house of assembly.

According to the statement, “the manner and speed with which the Enugu State House of Assembly approved the N11bn loan requested by Governor Sullivan Chime also show that the credit facility is to be used for every other thing but what we were told it is meant. How can they say it is for the completion of infrastructural projects and not allow journalists cover the sitting that saw to the approval of the loan request?

“How can the Enugu House of Assembly which had abandoned it legislative duties by proceeding on recess reconvene all of a sudden to accord legitimacy to this bidding of the governor which does the state no good? Even if we agree that that the loan was indeed meant for the completion of ongoing projects embarked upon by the current administration, is government no longer a continuum? If the funds earmarked for the said projects get exhausted, is it not appropriate that the incoming administration be allowed to take them over since the present regime is in its twilight?

“All things considered, we have come to realize that the N11bn loan as well as a different N7bn loan, which we hear Sullivan had earlier taken but requested the state legislature to endorse, are monies being amassed by the governor to push his political ambition as well as those of his cronies ahead of the 2015 general elections. Yet, let it be known that we the concerned youths of Enugu State will not stand idly by and allow this impunity to stand.

“We were crestfallen when we learnt that the said loan was borrowed at 17 per cent as against the usual interest rate of 12 per cent charged by most commercial banks. With the 17 per cent interest rate, it means that Enugu State will be using a whooping N2bn to service the credit facility every year. How heartless can those currently in charge of the state of affairs in Enugu be? Where and how will the money for servicing and repaying this loan come? What sustainable development programme has those taking this dubious loan initiated to warrant them plunging our beloved state into this kind of debt burden?

“We are talking of a governor whose administration has, through harsh and brainless policies, depleted and blocked hitherto sources through which Enugu State rakes in modest internally generated revenue. Now the chickens have come home to roast and all the intellectually lazy administration could do is to retrograde the state by taking this taxing loan,” the group noted.

BEYA however expressed joy that the Governor's resort to borrowing which it maintained is for the 2015 general elections, “indicates that Sullivan has seen that next year's election would not be a walk in the park as had been the case. Hence, he is mobilizing all resources by hook or crook to help him win at the polls and at the courts. But our members will wait for him and his ilk at the elections where we would teach them that all the money in the world will not prevent us from voting out those who do not mean well for the state.”

The youths' group further acknowledged gubernatorial aspirants in the state like Chinedu Onu and Okay Ezea who have publicly come out to condemn the loan, even as it faulted other aspirants who have elected to keep mum on the matter calling them “cowards”. BEYA “expects greater resistance to this arduous loan to come from those aspiring to be the next governor of the state since they are the ones to be incapacitated by the credit facility,” it added.

The Assembly concluded the statement by calling on its members as well as other well-meaning people of Enugu State to cast their ballots only for those aspirants who are intrepid enough to publicly condemn the loan requested and approved for Chime. It further requested the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to investigate the matter and ensure the loan is botched.