From Okey Sampson, Umuahia
Abia State governor, Okezie Ikpeazu and a People’s Democratic Party (PDP) governorship aspirant in the state, Chief Ncheta Omerekpe are on warpath over alleged $300m loan said to have accrued to the state government from the African Development Bank.
Omerekpe had during his tour of local government areas in the state to meet with PDP primaries delegates, told them, “I secured a loan of $300m from the African Development Bank for the State”, after the Governor “ran to me”.
In a swift reaction, Ikpeazu in a statement through his Chief Press Secretary (CPS), Onyebuchi Ememanka said, “Our attention has been drawn to a video circulating online where one Mr Ncheta Omerekpe, an aspirant to the office of Governor of Abia State on the platform of the PDP, made very ridiculous assertions against the person of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu and his administration.
“It is elementary knowledge that the African Development Bank does not need an Omerekpe to secure any loan for the Abia State Government or any government at all. Transactions at this level follow laid down and internationally recognized standard procedures and processes.
“For the avoidance of doubt, let it be made abundantly clear that as at today, the Abia State Government has not accessed any loan of $300m or any amount whatsoever from the African Development Bank”.
The statement made it clear that Ikpeazu does not need the intervention of anybody before he can speak to the authorities of the African Development Bank, whose President, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina it said enjoys a robust personal and official relationship with both the Governor and the State Government.
Ikpeazu said in March 2020, he led a delegation of officials of the State Government to a meeting with Dr. Adesina at the Bank’s headquarters in Abidjan where issues around sustainable development and critical areas of economic collaboration between the Bank and the State Government were discussed.
“The Federal Ministry of Finance and the National Assembly who play statutory roles in such bilateral financial arrangements are fully aware of the status of the discussions between the Abia State Government and the African Development Bank.
“$300m is a lot of money. No such amount of money or any amount at all has been accessed by the Abia State Government from the African Development Bank at any time.
Any serious person can effortlessly get information about such things from agencies of the Federal Government like the Debt Management Office”.
On Omerekpe’s claimed in the same video that he facilitated another investment from the same African Development Bank in the area of Agriculture to the tune of about $2b for the State Government, but that the investment was frustrated because some officials of the State Government allegedly demanded a bribe of $200m from the investor, Ikpeazu denied that saying he would never ask for gratification from any investor before investing in the state.
“For the avoidance of doubt, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu would never ask for nor support the asking of any form of gratification from any investors before investing in the State”.
The governor hinted he would be dragging the PDP governorship aspirant to court for maligning his integrity over the bribery allegation.
“Omerekpe will definitely hear from the Governor’s lawyers very soon”, the statement added.
However, following the Ememanka’s statement, the Omerekpe camp came out to say their principal stood by his earlier claim of facilitating the loan for the state.
A statement by Nnamdi Okogbuo,
Director General, Ncheta Omerekpe Campaign Organisation said, “For the avoidance of doubt, Chief Ncheta Elvis Omerekpe came into the picture of African Development Bank ( AFDB), loan when it was alleged that Dr. Alex Otti blocked access to the loan.
“Hence, his (Omerekpe’s) company was consulted for intervention as a consultant, Pro Bono and he defended the loan before the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign loans, headed by Distinguished Senator, Shehu Sani during the 8th Senate.
“The following people accompanied Chief Omerekpe before the Senate Committee, Sen. T A Orji, Sen. Enyi Abaribe, Obinna Oriaku, Bob Ogu, Hon. Darlington Nwokocha amongst others”.
Okogbuo said his principal has enough documents at his disposal to buttress his point, promising to make them available at the appropriate time.