Ebonyi: EFCC’s Futile Misadventure vs Governor Umahi’s Financial Wizardry


By Miss Monica ADA C. EZE
Agha Hasan Abedi also known
as Agha Sahab a Pakistani
banker and philanthropist
who founded the Bank
of Credit and Commerce
International in 1972 may have had Engr
Dave Umahi the action Governor of Ebonyi
State in mind when he stated and I quote,
“The conventional definition of management
is getting work done through people, but real
management is developing people through
work.” If one critically examine the revolution
currently going in Ebonyi State one can
easily conclude that Engr Umahi specializes
in developing people through assigning to
them tasks that go a long way in assisting in
developing Ebonyi State and her people.
On the other hand, President Barack
Obama of USA may also have Ebonyi State in
mind when he stated, “I put forward a budget
of what I called “middle-class economics” that
continues to be fiscally prudent but makes
necessary investments for us to continue the
economic momentum and job growth.” This
great quote by this outstanding leader of the
world aptly applies to Ebonyi State because
it is only the result of budget prudence and
financial wizardry of a leader like Engr Dave
Nweze Umahi could be embarking upon
the type of current infrastructure revolution
going on in the State that dwarfs the feats of all
the past administrations in Ebonyi State put
together and still decide to not only increase
the salaries and emolument of staff and
entitlements of Pensioners but to pay such on
15th of every month at a period of recession
when most States in Nigeria are owing their
staff months of unpaid salaries.
Before I divulge into the main issues
of this attempt and for avoidance of doubt
this treatise is not to praise the Ebonyi State
Government but strictly aimed to examine
critically the financial prudence of the
Umahi’s administration and the current
celebration in some quarters of the visit and
operation of EFCC in the State.
As a concerned daughter of Ebonyi state
not necessarily as the Technical Assistant on
Media to Governor Umahi, I decided to task
myself to unearth for you, the reader, the
public and our people in Diaspora the futility
or otherwise of the recent EFCC venture
into Ebonyi State at this particular time and
to appeal to Ebonyi State people not to be
disillusioned or disenchanted in any way
or feel intimidated by propagandists whose
Umahi’s pragmatic leadership have become a
source of misery to them and their sponsors.
On 9th November, 2016,I observed that
the main discussion going on in most parts
of Ebonyi State was the operation of the
Economic and Financial Crimes Commission
(EFCC) carried out in the state and reflected by
the Sun Newspaper and other dailies’ including
the Social Media of this day alleging that EFCC
has sealed Governor Umahi’s private properties.
Sadly, I also noticed with misgiving on this
fateful day, the wide jubilation and celebration
over this operation within the ranks and circles
of some misguided and disgruntled opposition
politicians whose disdain for the ongoing
revolution by the Umahi’s administration is
well known.
Having said all these, you can now
understand my goal in this treatise. Permit me
therefore to present to you the main issues of
this attempt.
John Milton (1608-1674) an English poet
defined prudence as “Prudence is the virtue by
which we discern what is proper to do under
various circumstances in time and place” and
this properly explains aptly the happenings in
Ebonyi state but to understand and appreciate
the mission of Governor Dave Nweze Umahi in
the politics of Ebonyi State, and Nigeria at large,
his mission statement must come to play. It
states: “My mission is to enhance the welfare
of our people, and empower all Ebonyians to
be self-reliant, through the compassionate
delivery of transparent and God-fearing
governance, based on integrity and dignity.”
With this, I will attempt to explain that
the venture of the Economic and Financial
Crimes Commission (EFCC) that deals with
criminality and misappropriation of public
funds into Ebonyi State, during the reign of
this God-fearing man must be a venture that
was misplaced.
In achieving a prudent management
of the scarce funds available to Ebonyi
State, a serious woman of God, Dr (Pastor)
Queen Agwu, was appointed as the State
Accountant-General, with Dr Dennis Ude
Ekumankama a very forthright fellow as the
Commissioner of Finance, and Dr Ignatius
Unah as the Permanent Secretary of the
Ministry. With these trio financial wizards,
Ebonyians can be rest-assured that their
funds are not only safe but will be utilised to
achieve the vision and mission of the David
of our time. Accordingly, the Vision of the
ministry is so explicitly on the vision of the
Governor. “The vision of the ministry is the
integration and implementation of fiscal and
developmental policies and programmes of
the state government.”
Under this administration, and to ensure
accountability, transparency and improved
revenue collection, the governor gave the
Board of Internal Revenue a full autonomy,
not minding that most states in Nigeria
can’t pay salaries because of the result of the
recession in Nigeria. But under the Umahi
regime the case in Ebonyi State is totally
different. The Ebonyi State workers’ salaries
are now paid on or before 15th of every
month, in line with His Excellency, the state
governor’s directive. Other genuine claims
like leave allowance of the workers are paid
regularly. Gratuities and pension benefits of
retired officers are now paid monthly along
side with the salaries.
The ministry’s in-built checks and
controls system through posting of internal
auditors and other mechanisms have made
the state government financial transaction
in ministries/ departments more in line
with budget provisions and financial laws.
This, no doubt, is the policy trust of the
present administration on transparency,
accountability and quality service delivery.
In budget implementation, we have ensured
that contractor’s certificates are paid timely
and that fund voted for a particular project
is strictly applied for the purpose. Over head
releases are on monthly basis and regular too.
That has given a boost to ministries and nonministerial
departments in carrying out their
recurrent activities. Financial reporting has
been improved upon. At present, there is no
arrears of the State Annual Accounts. The
Office of the Accountant-General introduced
e-revenue and salary in the state. This salary
automation ensures that each staff pays the
correct tax, because this has been factored
into the software.
Today, Ebonyi State is referred to as
one huge construction site with three solid
flyovers almost completed and to capture
what is happening in Ebonyi State more
aptly, Engr Babachir Lawal, a chieftain of
the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC)
and Secretary to the Government of the
Federation (SGF) said it all: “Well, I cannot
in all honesty understand how these works
have been achieved within this short time
and, indeed, in the climate of dire economic
shortages of government. I am impressed
that you (Dave Umahi) were able to do these
works within the cost you mentioned. I can,
in all honesty, tell you that the work is far
beyond the cost. Now, this is a standard for
other states and the Federal Government
to emulate. To me, Governor Umahi is one
of the few persons who believe that meagre
resources could be used to achieve much, if
we remove greed, which breeds corruption.
Without mincing words, Umahi, is better
than some governors in my own party, the
Before going further on this treatise, let
me unequivocally and unambiguously state
that EFCC’s Establishment Act mandates
the EFCC to combat financial and economic
crimes. The commission is empowered to
prevent, investigate, prosecute and penalise
economic and financial crimes, and is
charged with the responsibility of enforcing
the provisions of other laws and regulations
relating to economic and financial crimes.
It is a fact that EFCC based on the above
definition of its operations and establishment
is free to visit and investigate any act they
perceive criminal or illegal which may have
caused they visit to Ebonyi State as reflected
in the Sun Newspaper and other dailies’
publication of 9th November, 2016 alleging
that EFCC has sealed Governor Umahi’s
private properties.
The above notwithstanding, i wish to
correct the erroneous impression as reflected
in some of these dailies that ‘EFCC has sealed
Governor Umahi’s private properties’. I
accept the fact that an “under investigation”
sign was placed on Orsbon La Palm Hotel
and Brass Filling stations, and some other
properties assumed to belong to Governor
Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State, because of the
alleged misappropriation of N400 million
released by Col Sambo Dasuki (retd),
National Security Adviser (NSA) to former
President Goodluck Jonathan, for the 2015
general elections in Ebonyi State but the
above notwithstanding, i wish to state clearly
that placing an ‘Investigation order’ on the
said properties is not the same as sealing the
properties. Sealing the properties in a lay
man’s language entails closing these business
outlets for business transactions with the
public, which is not the case in this regard.
I will like to reiterate, all the same, that
these properties under investigation were
acquired by Governor Umahi as a private
citizen, when he was outside the government
and have nothing to do with any release either
from Dasuki or any government source and,
therefore, it is erroneous on the side of EFCC
to place an investigation order on a property
duly acquired legally by Umahi when he was
not in government.
Third, and very importantly, the EFCC’s
action amounts to nothing since Engr
Dave Umahi resigned his directorship and
ownership of all his business empire since
assumption of office as deputy governor of
Ebonyi State in 2011. This act, therefore,
becomes laughable for some group of
people to assume that Umahi’s properties
were sealed by EFCC, as his office – both as
a one-time deputy governor and currently
as the Governor of Ebonyi State – does
not permit him to own or run any other
business, except that of government.
However, it is important to note that
Umahi, by the grace of God through the
mandate given to him by the great people
of Ebonyi State, is the incumbent executive
Governor of Ebonyi State. Therefore, he
enjoys immunity, as provided for in the
Constitution of the Federal Republic of
Nigeria and, as a result, can’t be under
probe while in office. Those celebrating of
the unwarranted attacks on our amiable and
performing governor are celebrating in vain,
as God who granted him this grace to serve
his people will surely protect him from every
visible and invisible attack.
Having said all these, let me reiterate
that as law-abiding citizens, and very
supportive of President Muhammadu
Buhari’s fight against corruption, which is
a major challenge to the development and
emancipation of our nation, the Umahi’s
administration will support the EFCC to the
best of her abilities to carry out its statutory
duties. Even so, we wish to appeal to them
to follow due process and respect the rights
of our people and not give in to the antics of
politicians who do not see any good in our
efforts to bring the dividends of democracy
to our people.
For us in the present administration
under Umahi, prudence and proper
distribution of the scarce funds at our
disposal is our hallmark; and we have no
skeleton in our cupboard. Our doors are
always open to the EFCC and any other
organ of government to beam its searchlight
on us at anytime.
To us, it makes no meaning that
the EFCC could paste information on
the properties they felt belonged to our
governor, because we are convinced that
at the end of the day both Umahi and his
associates will be vindicated.
Umahi doesn’t need any distraction but
support at this time to enable him focus on
his mission and vision for Ebonyi State
The Governor’s reaction to those
asking him to resign based on the EFCC’s
visit suffices here: “my government will not
be distracted from delivering democracy
dividends to Ebonyians. These elements
attacking me lack credibility in all fronts
to have the moral justification to beam a
searchlight on me and my administration
as their past is full of corruptive tendencies.
I am happy that the public know that these
elements have nothing positive to offer to
our state bur are agents whose primary
desire is to truncate the existing peace in our
State and discredit my government.
The good thing is that the people of
Ebonyi who gave their mandate to me to
exercise on their behalf would “never allow
agents of the devil to have their negative
desires come to pass.
These desperate agents were those
involved openly selling empowerment
forms to unemployed youths of Ohaukwu
LGA claiming that it was a Federal
Government directive. The good thing is
that my government had intervened by
empowering over 4,500 unemployed youths
and women of Ebonyi State and provided
the sum of N250,000 to them to embark on
business of their choice”.
Finally, let me appeal to our people in
Ebonyi and those in the Diaspora to continue
to exercise faith in this administration, as we
are determined to make a difference this time
around, and to make our state a reference
point in the annals of governance in Nigeria.
For those who are hell-bent on distracting
the governor by cooking up lies against him,
we appeal to them to exercise caution so that
posterity will not be too harsh on them.
… Eze is Technical Assistant (TA) on
Media to Governor Dave Nweze Umahi