ENUGU STATE FINANCES: AN OPEN LETTER TO SENATOR ADETUNMBI
Dear Senator Olubunmi Adetunmbi (ACN, Ekiti North), Senator, recently you made a 'privileged' statement, concerning Enugu State and other states on the floor of the Nigerian Senate. You claimed that Enugu State was in a financially critical state and facing bankruptcy. You did not state the basis of your assertion.
You offered no extraneous proof beyond a questionable study, allegedly commissioned by the Nigerian Governors Forum. You did not explain whatever informed your assertion. You simply tossed out such a weighty statement. Senator, you are wrong and we believe that a retraction and an apology from you would be in order.
Senator, did you know that since May 2007, Enugu State has paid salaries on time,every month, without fail? Did you know that Enugu State has paid October, 2011 salaries even when the federal allocation for the month of October, 2011 has not been shared? Did you know that this is not the first time such has happened and that Enugu State does, in fact, pay monthly salaries, on time, every month, whether monthly allocations have been shared for the month or not? Senator, did you know that Enugu State is not owing a single contractor despite the massive infrastructural projects that Governor Sullivan Chime has embarked upon since 2007? Did you know that Enugu State was the first state to pay the minimum wage in the South-east and was, perhaps, one of the first two or three in the whole country to first pay the minimum wage? Did you know that Enugu State was buoyant enough not only to pay the minimum wage but to also clear the minimum wage arrears, beginning April, 2011?
Senator, did you know that unlike some other states, Enugu State has not rushed to the capital market to raise long-term bonds to finance the numerous infrastructural developmental projects that Governor Chime has embarked upon since 2007? Senator, you and I know that bonds are debts and that the proceeds from such bonds, if misused, could spell future financial doom for the states in question. Thus states such as Lagos (N15bn) in 2002, Lagos (series 1-N50bn), Lagos (series II-N57.5bn), Imo (N18.5bn), Kwara (N17bn), Niger (N6bn), Bayelsa (N50bn), Kaduna (N8.5bn), Ebonyi (N16.5bn), Delta (N5bn) in 2007, Kebbi (N3.5bn) in 2006, and Yobe (N2.5bn) in 2002 are in a comparatively more precarious situation than Enugu State. Again, Senator, Enugu State did not rush to the capital markets to raise bonds/ borrow and perhaps mortgage her financial future. Instead, Governor Chime has used a sound and uncanny fiscal sense to manage the little allocation/IGR that Enugu State gets every month. Senator, does it not amaze you how Governor Chime has achieved SO MUCH with so little?
Senator, did you know that since May 2007, Enugu State has religiously paid up her counterpart contributions for almost all of her syndicated-funding projects? Did you know that Enugu State has invested heavily and prudently in key sectors of her economy? Did you know that with her sound investments in agriculture and food production, that Enugu State is geared to achieve self-sufficiency in food production by 2013 (well short of her earlier goal of 2015)? Did you know that Enugu State's wise investments in physical infrastructure, especially in the metropolis is now paying off with increasing investor interest in the state, and a population boom through migration from other states to Enugu State, and healthy and increasing real estate values, and a returning manufacturing/industrial base, and a down-ward unemployment index, and a rising middle class etc?
Senator, we cannot believe that you did not know these things before you made such a baseless and irresponsible claim against Enugu State in the hallowed halls of the Nigerian Senate. So, we presume that you must have chosen to ignore these facts, deliberately.
But why? Well, Senator Olubunmi Adetunmbi, with all due respect, we understand you. Of course you calculate that if Enugu State can be labeled 'financially distressed and facing bankruptcy,' then Enugu State would be considered not viable enough to stand alone as an independent state, let alone have another state(s) created out of it (Adada and/or Equity). Your desired conclusion could then mean that no new state(s) should be created out of Enugu State. In other words, you are telling us to forget about Adada State and/or Equity State. Instead, you imply that Enugu State should possibly be merged with another state.
We understand these calculations but such baseless and irresponsible claims against Enugu State are not a legitimate and acceptable argument against new state creation in the South-east as is obviously the stand of some of the people in the National Assembly. Senator, you can argue against creation of new state(s) in the South-east (if that is your honest conviction) but it is unacceptable for you people to so recklessly and falsely label Enugu State in the process. We understand this your 'intellectual' subterfuge, this little mind game of yours. We will defend against it; it will fail.
Furthermore, on the matter of the revenue allocation formula between the federal, state, and local governments, we also understand that you and a handful of other Senators would like an upward review of the allocation formula so that the state governments would end up with a higher percentage than the federal government as is currently the case. We understand that you want to portray that the current financial state of the state governments compel your desire for an upward review, but you did not have to attach a false, baseless and irresponsible label on a fiscally prudent and exemplary state such as Enugu to make your point.
In conclusion, Senator, you were wrong. A retraction and an apology from you would be in order.
Ambrose Agu, who wrote from Enugu