By Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu
Enugu State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday asked Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi to convoke a high-powered panel of inquiry to unravel how $50 million World Bank loan allegedly obtained by the administration of Governor Sullivan Chime meant for provision of water in Enugu metropolis and other towns was spent.
The party charged the governor to ensure that all the monies “taken from Enugu Water Scheme” by previous administrations in the state were recovered, insisting that the proposed Town Hall meeting over the lingering water shortage in the state should be shelved.
APC in a statement by the state Publicity Secretary, Mrs. Kate Offor, said the panel of inquiry would achieve greater results than the town hall meeting.
“Ugwuanyi should as a matter of urgency convoke a high-powered panel of inquiry to unravel those who allegedly siphoned the monies voted to provide water to Enugu metropolis and other towns, and go ahead to recover the looted water funds. Town Hall Meeting is only a talk shop,” the Enugu APC spokesperson said.
Offor recalled that there were two or three tranches of funds voted to provide sufficient water in the state in the last two decades including the money voted by Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) during Muhammadu Buhari reign and the $50 million World Bank loan obtained by the immediate past administration of Governor Sullivan Chime.
“To start with, in the late 90s, the PTF then chaired by Buhari, after intensive study, designed a water scheme for Enugu metropolis taking a cue from the 1904 in Oji River where the British drilled magnificent borehole which is still functional today. The water flow line designed from Oji River to Enugu is about 25kilometres. PTF finished a successful test borehole, set aside money and nominated a German company for the project shortly after General Sani Abacha’s demise and the return to democracy in 1999, the Peoples Democracy Party (PDP) took over.
“We want the panel of inquiry to tell the world how the money PTF voted for Enugu water project was spent and who derailed the plan? As the study showed that Enugu metropolis will have more water than it requires while storage will be the major headache,” Offor said.
Quoting a report credited to a top official of the state government in a national daily, Offor explained: “The two water schemes in the state broke down at the same time and put us in trouble. We have the Ajalli water scheme built by Jim Nwobodo administration which is about 34 years old now and Oji River water scheme inaugurated by President Olusegun Obasanjo’s government.
“They used to break down one after the other, but this time, they broke down together. It’s difficult. Now it has been repaired. Electricity coming there from the EEDC is low, and it cannot pump the water.”
The publicity secretary observed that though the projects were federal projects, the govern should take a closer look at how funds meant for them were handled, noting that “he who wears the shoe knows where it pinches, and state and federal government are interdependent in this instance.”
According to her, the current Minister of Water Resources was the head of Water Department of PTF, and some of those who derailed the PTF plan are still alive while their people participated in the award of the failed contract.
Offor said the second failed opportunity was the $50million World Bank loan, a transaction which took place under the watch of his predecessor, Chime.
She therefore said Ugwuanyi should re-open the investigation of the project, which his top official said was not $50 million but about 29 to 30 million dollars, but whatever they did, the new government did not see it.
APC admonished the governor to join President Buhari in the war against corruption, so as not only to recover billions looted by his predecessor, but to plug the leakages in the financial system, even as she made it clear that “Town Hall Meeting is a bridge to nowhere.”