It has come to the knowledge of the Anambra State Government that Senator Patrick Ifeanyi Uba claims in a voice note which he has gleefully been distributing to all manner of persons and individuals that the state government furtively raised a N25 bn bond from the Debt Management Office/Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and Economic Planning for failed federal roads in the state which the state has rehabilitated or reconstructed. For effect, Chief Ubah emphasizes that the bond was approved without the knowledge of the National Assembly. This claim is, with due respect to the senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, bizarre.
We are not aware of anywhere in the world where a bond can be issued secretly. Before a bond can be issued for a state government in Nigeria, the State House of Assembly, the Debt Management Office, the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and Economic Planning, the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Securities and Exchange Commission must be involved. Every bit of the transaction must not only be transparent but also be public knowledge.
The Anambra State Government has not raised any money from the Debt Management Office or the Federal Ministry of Finance under a bond or any financial instrument from any institution or organization. Our record of prudent financial management and integrity is well acknowledged far and near. Last August 31, for instance, BudgIt, a highly regarded independent civic organization which uses technology to intersect citizen engagement with institutional improvement to facilitate societal change, declared Anambra State and the petroleum –rich Rivers State the two states with the best fiscal responsibility index in Nigeria.
It is tough to speculate how Ubah came about the phantom N25bn bond which Anambra State purportedly raised surreptitiously from the DMO/Federal Ministry of Finance. The only thing that any individual can possibly think about is the promissory notes which the state government received in two tranches from the Debt Management Office/Federal Ministry of Finance for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of failed federal roads in the state.
The promissory notes were never secret. The reimbursement was recommended by the Senate after a public hearing on the debts owed the state for the roads rehabilitation and reconstruction. Given the fact that the Federal Ministry of Finance did not have the cash to settle the debts, it opted for promissory notes. The amounts and proceeds of the promissory notes are captured clearly in the Report of the Accountant General with Financial Statements for the year ended 31st December, 2019. Even the purposes to which the funds are deployed are stated clearly in the Annual Report. The transactions could not have been more honorable and transparent.
Anambra State is today regarded as a model in governance. Despite limited resources, it is ahead of every other state in Nigeria in a lot of areas, including the employment rate which many economists in the world regard as the most important indicator of economic performance. On August 19, 2020, for example, the National Bureau of Statistics published the latest survey of unemployment rates in Nigeria which saw Anambra, with a13.1% unemployment rate in a working population of 2.25 million, as the state with the lowest unemployment rate in the country whereas the average national unemployment rate is 27.1%. It is not for nothing that Anambra has now become the most competitive state in Nigeria.
C. Don Adinuba,
Commissioner for Information & Public Enlightenment, Anambra State