ENUGU STATE GOVERNMENT
SECRETARY TO STATE GOVERNMENT
ABUJA BUILDING
GOVERNMENT HOUSE
INDEPENDENCE LAYOUT
ENUGU
NIGERIA



PRESS STATEMENT
03 October, 2006

OFFICIAL RESPONSE OF THE GOVERNMENT OF ENUGU STATE TO THE EFCC REPORT

By way of stating our background in this; that is before accepting to get into the fray, it is imperative to quickly point out that the sole purpose of this statement is to address the worries created in well meaning citizens, friends and the diplomatic community, who have voiced strong rage at the turn of what was initially believed to be an altruistic investigation of financial activities of the government of Enugu State of Nigeria, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

In coming out now, especially in formally looking into what is currently portrayed by hilarious political players who have not actually read the report, we seize this opportunity to impress it on our valued admirers, citizens, friends and the diplomatic community that we have not accepted to be distracted from the now-globally acclaimed huge results in delivering to the people of Enugu State. We have, also, not abandoned our deliberate gesture of decorum, circumspection, caution and objectivity, in patiently awaiting the outcome of investigation, though not side-by-side pre-judicial, pre-trial, publicity, as now adopted by the Commission.

Indeed, while we adopted this gesture of studied silence, we understood that we would be pressured beyond the heating level of the furnace, but we had continued, convinced, as it were, that the silence and detachment which we portrayed as formal response to such efforts at dramatising the then exercise in investigation of financial activities was not by any means meant to convey fright or dread or any lack in the right strategies plan. For those who know us very well, it neither meant the lack of the will nor even stomach to embark on such public communication initiatives to put aside the deliberate attempt at altering citizens’ perception of the government of Enugu State .

At each point, however, we had been driven on the striding statesmanlike disposition of His Excellency, Governor Chimaroke Nnamani, who largely infused in all that if the agenda of those who wanted to make battlefields of the coming political/electioneering season was to try Enugu as potent trouble-spot, they should be made to fail.

However, while this still holds sway, we cannot ignore the emerging prompting, especially revealed in the public show of trial of the Government, officials and the good people of Enugu State, which had to be followed by a shoddily disguised “packages” of media exposure aimed at etching the entirely incoherent report in the minds of Nigerians, friends, well wishers and the diplomatic community.

Initially, though as still practised elsewhere, the essence of trust in public institutions is that having come on the wings of public law, it preaches public order, applies objective conditions and rigidly observes the rule of law, so as to further public harmony, security of persons and property, as well as set the standards for public spirited values to predominate activities in society.

In saying this, we are not unaware of the possibility of high grade political schemes usually associated with deadly power plays, especially such that would seek to hijack the programmes or mode of operation of other wise objective institutions to achieve selfish ends.

Yet, even as these were expected and indeed, seemed to have happened, it was initially taken for granted that it would never come to bare-faced falsehood, stage drama, hollering, complete disrespect for persons and institutions, all in the name of responding to supposedly populist disposition, which indeed were clear red-herrings of democratically displaced politicians and their friends.

It was at this juncture that we felt sufficiently armed to state, and let it be on record, that what now obtains, from the pre-Senate statements of the EFCC, right through that stage display on the floor of the Upper Chamber of our National Assembly, which are followed swiftly by the subsequently arranged media blitz on the person of Governor Chimaroke Nnamani of Enugu State, had put a nagging question to this business of a government institution in objective assessment of another government.

Against this backdrop, we shall, for now, be constrained to follow-up on three main points made public, through “arranged” media exposure, as representing “the case against Governor Nnamani” and other officials of Government of Enugu State.

1. Claimed exercise in confirming over-pricing on construction contracts awarded by Enugu State Government to contractors specified in the petition.

In reporting, publicly, in a case the EFCC still hopes to go to court on, it claimed that in investigating 24 number (none was named) projects, it hired “versatile professional engineers”. These “specialists”, who did a mere straight sighting of the projects – leaving out 30 per cent –considered it sufficiently professional to take a mere glance at standing structures, never bothering to ascertain the possibilities of varied characteristics in bills, quantities and prices in various parts of Nigeria, to make definitive statements. And, so, in their highly estimated “specialist” assessment, established that in an over-all contract value of thirty Billion (N30b) Naira, they could sniff out a net over value of two billion, four hundred million (N2.4b) Naira for building projects side-by-side their alleged four hundred million (N400m) Naira over valuation for road construction contracts. These were said to be jobs and businesses of government, from 1999 till date.

Our Response
a. It is not clear to us and certainly our friends, what the EFCC appears set to realise in its hasty conclusion that a deliberate over valuation of N2.8b occurred in a plethora of contracts estimated to be about N30b Naira – that is about 10.71 per cent - a claim made disregarding its own self confessed inability to fully inspect the entire projects, the whole papers or talk to the entire persons named.
b. Second, at no point did the EFCC state the kind of financial standards it applied, bearing in mind that contract bills, awards and execution are naturally related to specific characteristics, some of which may derive from spot of projects, distance between material and point of use and quality/quantity of personnel/expertise required. In addition to these, fluctuations arising from unpredictable socio-political developments and natural events can actually affect bills, quantity and timing, and usually come into the overall standards of value attached.
c. But then, it is still a wonder that the same Commission set and directed by the administration of Mr. President, Olusegun Obasanjo, did not find the sighting and confirmatory statement of the Head of State as weighing far more than those of be-dragged “specialists” and amateurish inquisitors who did not have the liver to demand of EFCC not to release reports that had not been conclusively undertaken.
d. Besides, Mr. President, who is very knowledgeable about the weight or otherwise of the purse of each State, and a Fellow of Nigeria Society of Engineers (FNSE) came, saw and declared that … Enugu is working. This was a confirmatory statement made at the commissioning of the first road tunnel in Nigeria, the Ebeano Tunnel Crossing, reality of which the EFCC appeared to have been so sucked into the envy of political opponents to deride as “so called”.
e. Indeed, President Obasanjo’s testimony had followed the ground-swelling visit and confirmation by 14 European Union Ambassadors, who swore that their faith on the roots of a new Nigeria was believed to be emerging from Enugu . Theirs, in turn, was to be followed by the result of the benchmark evaluation carried out by international bilateral organisations under the aegis of National Planning Commission, which still survived various attempts at perversion, as it established that Enugu State stood as the best governed State…in terms of transparency in government finances, openness of administration, budgetary implementation and stakeholder participation in policy formulation and implementation.
f. Surprising, if not absurd, in the eyes of analytical Nigerians who have had to go through this highly promoted, but one-sided EFCC report on Enugu and Governor Nnamani, is the deliberate failure to appreciate the weight of expectation of due exercise of discretion, sobriety and circumspection, especially when it was clear that the purpose it ever got into the business was by the mere hollering and shrieking of democratically displaced politicians who found allies in disgruntled vocal players in the system.
g. Indeed, it is a massive wonder that such an agency, which ought to exhibit the highest level of the qualities of detectives took the easy road of populist but amateurish inquisitors who would ignore composite elements of issues of deep and penetrating investigation in favour of worthless individual stage accolades.

2. Claimed exercise in confirming the allegation of stupendous increase in wealth of Governor Chimaroke Nnamani while in office.
The now heavily advertised report of the EFCC suggests that by whatever standards it applied, the person of the Governor of Enugu State, Chimaroke Nnamani, could be indicted by appealing to possible links between the governor and his relations who have been in business and professional practice for decades. The Commission went ahead to name Rainbownet Limited, Hillgate Nigeria Limited and Capital City Automobile Company Limited, among others, which had long established as parts of the economy of Nigeria and Enugu State.

Response:
a. We consider the investment profiles of the named organisations and the others which are not named as worthwhile. We indeed pray that more of such heavy players would come into Enugu , and without regard to staged harassment induced by emergent power players.
b. We do not pretend that we can ignore the values of globalisation one of whose anchor is the freely enterprising private sector, whose environment of operation can only be assured in a stakeholder driven democracy.
c. In observing the principles of individual responsibility under the laws of the land, the government of Enugu State does not go out of its way to establish the differences in the relationship between the individuals who come to do business in Enugu State , provided such persons or groups adhere to the standards in place.
d. From that foregoing, the Enugu State Government is aware of Mrs. Chinero Nwigwe, as a certified public accountant, trained and long established in the United States , a place she has lived, worked for over two decades. It is also known to the government that she rose very high in the public service, successfully pursues other legitimate inclinations in the United States of America , from where she comes and returns in her very free individual life. Mrs. Nwigwe is one we are really proud of; as we firmly state that it was not known to the Government that she was ever invited by the EFCC, for whatever reason.
e. This is not also withstanding that it is not the business of the government of Enugu State to seek to ascertain her involvement in any business of hers which is legitimate. This is against the background that it is in the province of her right, as others, to engage in any legitimate business, earn any legitimate profit or asset as she sets out to and as her acumen can carry her, just as others.
f. In like standards, the government and people of Enugu State have earned high level investment and growth of the State economy, as bountifully as the following facts will show.
g. Data gathered and interpreted by international agencies and made available to Enugu State Government shows that following the growing enabling environment for businesses, investments had grown tremendously, and at the last count in 2004, micro-enterprises had risen from 191, 000 in 1999 to 603, 000; medium scale initiatives had grown from 43, 000 in 1999 to 203, 000 while such businesses commenced with over one million Naira had jumped from 301 in 1999 to 1, 001 in 2004. The number of such players capable of employing over 50 persons was reported to have moved upwards, from 97 in 1999 to 487 in 2004; while the giants employing over 299 staff had climbed from 11 to over 33 in the same period under review.
h. It remains gladdening to the government and people of Enugu State that these clusters of business enterprises increase the individual’s participation in the economy and enhance the general Enugu Social and economic environment. Indeed, the construction giants which formed a part of the upper cluster have recorded employment of over 42, 000 persons, pushing the State to the status of the melting point in construction jobs, with technologists, scientists, artisans and craftsmen coming in their droves from all parts of Nigeria and indeed West Africa – Ghana, Benin Republic, Togo, Cote de’Voire, etc - to add to the teeming construction employees.
i. Of these, the issue for the government of Enugu State was never the specific persons of the investors, as long as they locate themselves within the laws of the land, provide services and employment for the people of Enugu State .
j. It is, indeed, baffling to the government and people of Enugu State, that the EFCC conducted investigations and reached such conclusions which suggest that blood relations of the governor, who were never invited, never interviewed and never had any reason to believe they were not qualified to do business for the reason of being relations of a governor, were already adjudged guilty of an offence whose hidden standards were known to only men of the EFCC and their “versatile proessionals”.
k. It is also stunning that EFCC would make claims of foreign investment against the Governor of Enugu State, boldly presenting such claims on the floor of the Senate of the Federal Republic , without the corresponding, specific knowledge and insight on the specific domains of such assets.
l. It is further surprising that EFCC which easily bandies words and figures suddenly got dumb or is it lost with words in naming such foreign countries harbouring the assets of Governor Chimaroke Nnamani.
m. It is therefore important to point out to Nigerians that the wild claim that Governor Nnamani had netted for himself over N50 billion “suspected” to be taken from the State coffers, between 1999 and 2003, failed to take into account the actual, overall, earnings of Enugu State, which stands, from June, 1999 to the end of 2005, at Seventy Billion, six hundred and ninety six million, six hundred and ninety four thousand, three hundred and thirty four Naira, sixty four Kobo (N70, 696, 694, 334. 64).
n. It is within this figure that the salaries of civil servants, averaging over N500 million per month; subvention to public parastatals, over N300 million per month; payment for general administration and of course, the gargantuan projects with which the Chimaroke administration has now been known, are undertaken.
o. It is worthy here to state that Enugu State started the glorious democratic season in 1999 with about one hundred million Naira monthly allocation, then progressed to about N400 million, later N800 million, in subsequent months before we arrived this stage when Enugu graduated into about one and half billion Naira monthly take.
p. We have, about this day, done over seven years in the democratic governance of Enugu State , and by experience, we cannot but laugh at the preposterous pretension of sweeping assumptions, powered by personal indignation and total disregard for simple standards of evaluation. We therefore feel compelled to point out that if at any point, this EFCC claim is to be considered - that is aside the injury of pre-judicial, pre-trial publicity that comes in its wake - the point must be made that it eroded every possibility of any credibility by the confessed style, mode and tactics of investigation.

3. Claimed investigation into allegations of State Government involved in diversion of the funds or allocation to Local Government Areas.

We must admit here, along with others, that the fact of Nigerians not rising to interpretation of their constitution caused State Governments to ignore the forays of the EFCC in an area that ordinarily stands far beyond its competence.

But at the same time, the Government of Enugu State fully cooperated with the Commission, showing the protruding evidences that every penny meant for the local government had been handled and dispensed with according to the laws guiding the State-Local Government administration.

While we elect leave the rest under this topic to history, we have to affirm, as we did, elsewhere, that the issue of local government account has been very, very, conclusively settled by the Supreme Court of Nigeria, and as we yearn for such more pronouncements which firm up the foundation of our constitutional democracy, we remind those who seek to promote the negation of the law of the land that anarchy will never represent any better option to rule of law.

Overview:
We recognise that Nigeria is having the first ever eight years of democratic governance running in one stretch. We recognise the challenges posed by the wrong expectation framework, especially coming from the background of general assumption that every person in government is out there to better himself. Indeed, we sympathise with persons who run such high government watch-dog offices but rather than unravel the complexities in public administration, for the benefit of the nation, opt for playing to the gallery.

Yet, it is expected that in thorough investigations, such as ones involving the soul of a State of over four million people, they cannot be carried out in a rattle-run, whistle-stop, sight-seeing as undertaken by EFCC’s sandwiched and be-dragged “versatile professional engineers” who did not even have the time to see the entire projects but who had no professional qualms making strong statements of over-valuation on projects - about 30 per cent of which - they admitted they never sighted let alone properly inspected.

Good conscience dictates that EFCC could not have been lukewarm in admitting that its inconclusive investigation must not come of a hurried report even if by its “specialist engineers”, to seek to diminish a State Government, which has been adjudged the best governed State.

CONCLUSION:
For the avoidance of doubt, we want to state, quite categorically, that the EFCC report, as presented on the floor of the Senate of the Federal Republic , September 27, 2006 and promoted in the scarcely disguised media launch, could not have been the report of the investigations which were conducted on Enugu State .

If, as we can now confirm, the whole matter is such for likely public shows; where the supposedly investigated is tried on public podia, pre-judicially, and without chances of proper defence, in a constitutional democracy; we are wiser and will respond as we have been enlightened.

The fact, however, should not be lost on Nigerians that in hastily storming the public arena to yell at Enugu State Government and others, EFCC is refusing to accept that it has no case against those investigated, since this pre-judicial, pre-trial publicity, has knocked off the Commission’s chances of pursuing strong prosecution in the courts of the land.

In stating the above as we consider the report, establishing the trend of deliberate but selective exposure, we have the honour in acknowledging that the EFCC is actually deserving of kudos in such areas it owned up the fact on the ground. One commendable instance is the admittance that in investigating Enugu State government, it observed price variances of 2. 4 billion Naira in building construction projects and N400 million in road projects. Strangely, though, the Commission’s “versatile professional engineers” refused to add up to make the fact that these could come directly from the equally admitted gap of 30 per cent of the projects which, for time constraints, they could not investigate.

Related, we are surprised that the Commission deliberately missed regional, space and time factors in cost variances, especially when such whistle-stop visits would naturally miss the schedule of the basic rates of the construction materials in 2002, compared to August 2006, when they visited Enugu .

It is against the background of lack of any kernel of indictment or evidence of malfeasance that we view the overall report on Enugu , as a confirmatory declaration which is yet to be picked in the in-between lines of what promoters of celebrated exposure clip on their chest as the prize of the century.


Dr. Dan Shere
Secretary to State Government

 


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