On Sunday, Sen. Dr. Chris Nwabueze Ngige in a live radio interview on Odenigbo 99.1fm discredited Senator Victor Umeh’s claim that he played a “vital” role in the Federal Government’s approval of N37.9bn being owed to Anambra State as part of monies used by the state to execute federal projects.
Ngige stated that Umeh was yet to arrive the Senate when these funds were processed. He gave credits to Senators Andy Uba and Stella Oduah for the role they played in ensuring that the Senate approved the monies.
In Chris Ngige’s words: “About N45bn was submitted as claim by Anambra State government, during the vetting process it was reduced to 37bn”.
Ngige stated that the approval process passed through the Federal Executive Council (FEC) before it was presented to the Senate for approval. According to him, during that time Umeh had not even “neared” the Senate.
“At some point there were some unclear areas and the two Anambra Senators (Uba and Oduah) went to the Finance Minister for clarifications”, Ngige stated.
He said Umeh could not claim to have played a vital role in a process that preceded his arrival to the Senate and that credits should be given to whom it is due – by this, he meant Senators Andy Uba and Stella Odua.
Now for those who may not be aware, a total of 21 States laid claim for refund by the Federal Government. Anambra State had the 5th highest claim for refund behind Lagos, Zamfara, Akwa Ibom and Ogun States. These funds which totalled about N488bn were approved jointly by the Senate.
According to statements shared by social media handles loyal to Umeh, Senator Umeh’s office was used as a Secretariat by the Anambra State delegation that came to verify and defend these claims in a public hearing organized by the Senate – the delegation included the State’s Deputy Governor, Commissioner of Works, and others. The Statement as released also stated that Umeh accompanied the Anambra State delegation to the public hearing held by the Senate Ad-hoc committee set up to verify these claims by states and at no point did the release state the roles Senators Andy Uba and Stella Oduah played in the process.
Now the question that comes begging is, could the Senate have approved these claims if a place other than Senator Umeh’s office was used as a Secretariat by the Anambra State delegation? Could it also have been successful if Umeh did not accompany them to the Senate public hearing, which in all sincerity he had no business attending, as he was not part of those to be queried?
The answers to the questions above would determine if indeed Senator Umeh played any crucial role in the approval of the said 37.9bn Naira.
Kingsley Chukwuemeka Ubani,
Awka, Anambra State.