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Ebonyi Govt, ex-Rep tango over $150m loan for road project

Samuel Amah, Abakaliki

There are growing recriminations between the Ebonyi State Government and a former member of the House of Representatives representing Ohaozara-Onicha-Ivo Federal Constituency, Hon Linus Okorie, over the $150million loan obtained by the state government for the construction of the Abakaliki Ring Road.

The State Government described the former lawmaker representing Ohaozara-Onicha-Ivo Federal Constituency in the House Representatives, Hon Linus Okorie, as being envious of his ‘master’s’ rising profile.

In a statement on Wednesday, the State Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Uchenna Orji, said the ex-Rep’s interest on the Abakaliki Ring Road, was nothing but mischievous.

The statement read in part: “While the public views as commendable, the success recorded by the Governor of Ebonyi State, David Nweze Umahi in actualizing  the execution of the long awaited old Abakaliki ring road which was dreamt of  but never realized by successive governments before him, Hon. Linus Okorie was raising politically induced alarms over how the loans ought or ought not to be spent.

“We have noted his comments and the sensations sought to achieve, but would like to put on record that Ebonyi State Government is known for  best practices  of international standards in governmental transactions.

“While we commend him for the confession he made on the success of our dear Governor in getting the all-important ring road projects, and his allusions on its  socio-economic importance to the State and particularly the eight Local Government Areas where the road will pass through, we invite him to note that his reservation about the contract details and cost differentials is most mischievous as the contract documents and implementation plan captured the necessary detailed information about the dimensions of the project implementation processes and same will as a matter of policy be  in Ebonyi State website and that of other agencies.

“The contract was awarded through a competitive bidding process which followed international best practices,  and the road map to its success was a tedious long journey diligently followed by relevant banks, the Federal Ministry of Finance and the State Government.”

But in a swift reaction, the ex-lawmaker, Hon Okorie, said he was neither attacking the governor nor was envious of his so-called profile.

Okorie observed that he was merely seeking to raise salient points over issues bothering on the $150million loan for the Abakaliki Ring road project, which according to him, had a lot to do with the future of Ebonyi people.

The former lawmaker stated this in a telephone interview on Tuesday night, stressing that the Governor helped him to become what was today.

He said: “There is nothing to say about what is being said that Uchenna Orji said about me not being happy with the governor. This is wrong. Umahi is my Governor. But the governor knows that I’m one of those that God used to make him get the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ticket in 2015. He (the governor) knows that and Orji is equally aware of this.

Besides, Governor has been good to me. He helped me go to the House of Representatives in 2011. The point I’m making shows I’m creator, and that I don’t destroy what I created.

“Now, back to the Ring Road, when the $150mllion loan was applied for, of course you know you have to get the two Chambers of the National Assembly to approve it. On the last day for the commencement of the National Assembly and they were scheduling matters for discussion. I was the one who rallied round the leadership to ensure that the loan was passed and the credit goes to me.

“I hold the view that the project is a very critical infrastructure for Ebonyi State and that if it’s eventually delivered, it’s something very commendable for the state.

“But when I saw in the news that about eight lots had been awarded to contractors and when the governor explaining it on Channels, I saw that clip shared by Uchenna Orji on social media. The governor said 150km had been awarded and 2.5km per lot.

“Now, 2.5 times eight is 20km, not 39km, judging by what the governor has said. This is $150million loan and I said there is need for government to explain and carry the people along for them to know that a 150km road for $150million loan, so that they won’t be let thinking that it’s $1million per one kilometer. This was just a way of trying to help the commissioner for his job; but I figured that commissioner was more into propaganda, than doing a qualitative job.

“He said something about when I was in the House of Representatives. This press statement from Orji keeps one wondering whether this is coming from a state government or whether it’s a propaganda-ladedened piece.

“I left the House in 2019 and talked about my Constituency projects. On this, the governor has come out at different fora to say I’m the best that had represented that constituency.”

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