Three South East Governors have been given a 21-day ultimatum to begin a probe of multimillion dollar denominated contracts awarded to firms owned by Prince Arthur Eze.
These two major contracts were awarded in 1991 for rural water supply in old Anambra State, financed by the Cote d’ Ivoire-based African Development Bank (AfDB).
The AfDB-financed contracts were for rural water in many communities in old Anambra State.
The three governors of the old Anambra State — Mr Dave Umahi of Ebonyi, Sen. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu and Chief Willie Obiano of Anambra have been tasked to begin the probe.
A statement was released in Enugu and jointly signed by Mr Joseph Onwe, Mr Ikem Onwudiwe and Chief Chukwuemeka Nwodo, President, Deputy President and Secretary respectively, top officials of the South East Development Initiative.
The statement indicated that three states had been paying the loans and accruing interests through direct deductions from their Federation accounts without the concerned states benefiting from the proposed infrastructure.
“The two contracts were awarded to Kings Engineering Company and Triax Engineering both located in New Haven, Enugu and owned by Prince Arthur Eze.
“Not less than 80 per cent of the contract sums were paid for in U.S. dollars and the remaining 20 per cent in Nigeria’s currency, the Naira.
“There was also a third contract, financed by the same AfDB, which the old Anambra State Government awarded: this is the building of an Industrial Development Centre (IDC) to be situated in Awka – today’s capital of the new Anambra State.’’
The statement also said that the markup in contracts by international firms like Shell and ExxonMobil was usually 10 per cent, but the profit margin for each of the contracts was 20 per cent. This was really huge, all the more so since payment was guaranteed.
“It is, therefore, shocking to realise that the contracts running into millions of dollars were not executed. You owe the people of Ebonyi, Enugu and Anambra states the duty to explain to them what became of the contracts.
“After all, huge amounts are subtracted monthly from your state’s entitlements from the Federation Allocation Account to pay for the loans plus interest.
“And the deductions will go on for 22 ½ years. There was an initial moratorium of five years on the loans.
“It is remarkable enough that your states have been paying for the loans and interest rates straight from the monthly allocations from the federation account without knowing why.
“You may not even know that the terrible execution of the AfDB contracts led to the inglorious exit of Bubakar Ndiaye, a Senegalese National, from the AfDB as its chief executive.
“The AfDB stakeholders were scandalised that instead of ensuring the proper execution of the huge contracts, the AfDB Managing Director flew from the bank’s headquarters in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, to Enugu on Arthur Eze’s 727 Boeing aircraft.
“Worse, the AfDB went to Eze’s residence in Enugu and began to praise him without seeing the jobs being done!’’
“Your Excellencies, the unconscionable abuse of the AfDB loans to old Anambra State running into millions of dollars is too grave a matter to be swept under the carpet.
“Consequently, we demand that you investigate this economic rape of our people, their children and their children’s children since 1991.’’
The statement stressed that a period of two weeks should be enough to start action. “If after 21 days you are unable to start a probe into the heist against the people of Ebonyi, Enugu and Anambra States, we will be compelled to report the matter to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as well as President, Commander-in-chief, His Excellency, General Muhammadu Buhari, for prompt action.’’