A governorship aspirant in Abia State, Mr Ncheta Elvis Omerekpe, has alleged that he secured a loan of $300million (US) for the state government, insisting that the government in its usual manner diverted the fund.
According to the PDP gubernatorial aspirant who made the allegation through a video clip currently circulating in the social media, the loan was procured through the African Development Bank (AfDB) after Governor Okezie ikpeazu “ran to him” for help.
Omerekpe, who is contesting the governorship seat in 2023 under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and hails from Isiala Ngwa North, also accused the Abia State government of fluffing off a foreign of $2billion by demanding a gratification of $200million upfront.
The politician claimed in the same video that he facilitated the $2billion investment from the same African Development Bank in the area of agriculture for the state government but that “the investment was frustrated because some officials of the State Government demanded a bribe of 200 Million Dollars from the investor”.
However, in a swift reaction to the allegations, the government through the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr Onyebuchi Omemanka, described the allegation as “very ridiculous, irresponsible and extremely outlandish”.
According to Omemanka, whose statement was titled “the Ncheta Omerekpe And His Drunken Tales”, as at today “the Abia State Government has not accessed any loan of 300 Million Dollars or any amount whatsoever from the African Development Bank. Not a penny! Not a single dime!”
The statement reads: “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 under the platform of the PDP, made very ridiculous, irresponsible and extremely outlandish assertions against the person of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu and his administration.
“Electioneering periods are synonymous with all manner of idle talks but Mr Omerekpe has clearly set a new record in the manufacture of a special brand of tales by moonlight clearly inspired by electoral confusion.
“According to him, “he secured a loan of 300 Million Dollars from the African Development Bank for the State” , after the Governor “ran to him”.
“This is the most nonsensical statement anyone can make and any person who understands the workings of an International Financing Development Partner like the African Development Bank will find Omerekpe’s claims laughable and a joke taken too far.
“The mere fact that this fellow can reduce serious business of government to his private and personal engagements clearly shows that Abians have all along been dressing Mr Omerekpe in borrowed robes, oblivious of his crass ignorance on serious issues.
“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 lay down and internationally recognized standard procedures and processes. Omerekpe refused to tell his bemused audience the capacity in which he secured the alleged loan.
“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 300 Million Dollars or any amount whatsoever from the African Development Bank. Not a penny! Not a single dime!
“Nothing could be farther from the truth. Discussions between the Abia State Government and the African Development for the financing of some critical projects in Aba predates the Ikpeazu administration. While serving as the then Deputy General Manager of ASEPA in Aba, Dr Ikpeazu helped in the preparation of certain technical documentation for the Abia State Government in their discussions and negotiations with the African Development Bank under the ABA INTEGRATED PROJECT ON SANITATION, ROADS, STORM WATER MANAGEMENT, ETC.
“When Dr. Ikpeazu was elected Governor in 2015, he inherited the discussions and has been in the forefront of leading the negotiations with the African Development Bank and has had several interfaces with the Bank’s topmost Management Team both in their Nigerian office at Abuja and their headquarters in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire.
“Governor Okezie Ikpeazu does not need the intervention of busy bodies like Omerekpe before he can speak to the authorities of the African Development Bank, whose President, Nigeria’s Dr. Akinwumi Adesina enjoys a robust personal and official relationship with both the Governor and the State Government.
“In March 2020, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu led a delegation of officials of the State Government to a well publicized 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.
“Since after that meeting, Governor Ikpeazu and Dr Adesina have met on several other occasions at other places across Africa. It is therefore extremely ridiculous for Omerekpe to claim that the Governor of a sub national Government in Nigeria will require his intervention to discuss issues of development finance with the President of the African Development Bank.
“Mr Ncheta Omerekpe must be a comedian of the lowest grade. He probably thinks that the African Development Bank is some Isiala Ngwa based Micro Finance Bank.
“It is a gratuitous insult on the credibility of an International Finance Organization like the African Development Bank whose institutional shareholding structure ranges from all African countries and other countries like the United States of America for a character like Omerekpe to claim that he facilitated a loan from the Bank to a State Government in Nigeria.
“Such high level discussions are held, and official correspondences thereon exchanged, using established economic diplomatic channels which are not available to funny fellows like Omerekpe.
“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. 300 Million Dollars 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.
“We understand Omerekpe’s confusion. He does not believe that the massive infrastructural exploits of the Ikpeazu administration ranging from the completed Osisioma Flyover, bridges in Umunneochi, Ohafia and Arochukwu, Aba Road Umuahia, 700 classroom block and several others could have been possible without such chunk of money from somewhere.
“Mr Omerekpe also 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 2 Billion Dollars for the State Government but that the investment was frustrated because some officials of the State Government demanded a bribe of 200 Million Dollars from the investor.
“Bribe of 200 Million Dollars? That is about 75% of the current budget of the Abia State Government!
“It is clear that Mr Omerekpe was clearly under certain psychotropic influences when he made that statement. He is a man who is obsessed with needless grandiosity. He even calls himself OFO NDI IGBO! Whatever that means!
“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. It is common knowledge that as at today, this Governor has been the most passionate when it comes to investment drives in the Country and the rating of Abia State by the National Bureau of Statistics as the 3rd Best State in Foreign Direct Investments is a clear pointer to the seriousness the Governor attaches to such issues.
“Let it made clear that Governor Okezie Ikpeazu will pursue this issue before a Court of Law and put Mr Omerekpe to the strictest proof of his wild claims. Omerekpe cannot malign the integrity of the Governor of Abia State, tell wicked lies against him of such magnitude and walk away freely.
“Omerekpe will definitely hear from the Governor’s lawyers very soon.
“If this is how Omerekpe thinks is best to pursue his gubernatorial dreams, then it is clear that he was never serious from the first day. Delegates of the PDP will expect him to explain to them what he seeks to achieve by making such malicious and false assertions against the Governor of Abia State.
“The idiosyncrasies of a serious contender to the high office of the Governor of Abia State are clear and do not, by any stretch of the imagination, include such outlandish conducts and penchant for making unguarded statements.
“Governor Okezie Ikpeazu urges the people of Abia State to treat the claims of Omerekpe with the ignominy it truly deserves while he weighs the legal options available to him.
“Those who start an unprovoked war must be prepared to fight it”.
Uche Nwosu is a two time Shell Petroleum PLC award winner in the year 2000;
He won the Shell Award on Investigative Journalism and Environmental Cleanliness.