Published On: Sat, May 27th, 2023

Okowa Allegedly Compels LG Chairmen To Take N40bn Loans Barely Few Days To Hand Over


LAGOS MAY 27TH (URHOBOTODAY)-Barely a week to the end of his second term in office, the Delta State governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, has reportedly compelled the 25 local government council chairmen under the umbrella of the Association of Local Government of Nigeria, (ALGON), to take N40billion loans from a bank, SaharaReporters has learnt.
The governor said the loan would enable them to offset the backlog of debts owed retired primary schools teachers and local government workers in the state.
In the last four years, thousands of Delta State retirees drawn from across the 25 local government areas of the state had stormed the state government House, Asaba to protest against the state governor and disrupted official activities with placards over the nonpayment of their pension, gratuities and other entitlements running into several billions of naira.
Sometime in March 2022, Governor Okowa was smuggled out a programme by the operatives of the Department of Security Service, (DSS) and other security details attached to the governor following a protest by the state retirees who blocked the entrance of the event centre in Asaba.
The N40 billion loan, SaharaReporters reliably gathered, may be sourced from one of the new generation banks, Premium Trust Bank, Asaba, which the governor allegedly has interest, though he had denied such interest.
SaharaReporters reliably learnt that the loan which some local government council chairmen of the state are currently grumbling about over its timing, is being carried out in secrecy.
Some of the councils chairmen who are not comfortable with the loan and pleaded not to be mentioned for security reasons, confided in SaharaReporters that everything concerning the loan was been done in secret with an “executive” instructions to all the councillors in the 25 local government to given a legislative nod to the loan in each of their various council.
“We were also mandated as council chairmen in our various Exco meetings to give the loan a nod. Some of us are not really happy and comfortable with the way and manner this N40 billion loan is came. Why now, that’s the question some of us are asking, though it’s a good thing, the intention behind it is an avenue for some individuals to be richer in billions of naira to the detriment of Deltans. At the end of the day, billions of naira will be going straight to some individual private pockets.
“Merely looking at the whole thing, especially the timing, you need no prophet to tell you, some individuals are going to be richer in billions of naira at the end of the day. Just few days to end of your tenure, you came up with this kind of idea of N40 billion loan. And why the Premium Trust Bank, Asaba, because, for some time now, that is the bank governor Okowa always runs to for loan facility and it’s been rumoured that he has interest in that bank. Some of us see this loan as a conduit pipes for some individuals, no matter how they try hard to defend it and applaud the moves.”, One of the council chairmen lamented.
SaharaReporters reliably gathered that though the idea did not go down well with some council chairmen, the decision for the loan was reached on May, 2, 2023 during a meeting at the Joint Accounts Allocation Committee, (JAAC) and attended by the 25 council chairmen.
It was said that the loan would be paid back within the period of eighty months.
It was learnt that within six days after the JAAC meeting, a letter was written from the state pension bureau, signed by its secretary, Frank Atube, dated May, 8, 2023 was addressed to the state chairman of the Association of Local Government of Nigeria, (ALGON), Victor Ebonka, who also doubles as the Ika North East council chairman.
Accordingly, in the letter sighted by SaharaReporters, the N40 billion loan is spread across the 25 local government councils as follows: Aniocha North N1.406 billion, Aniocha South N1.182 billion, Bomadi N903.8 million, Burutu N1.402 billion, Ethiope East N2.250 billion, Ethiope West N2.165 billion, Ika North East N1.715 billion, Ika South N1.602 billion, Isoko North N1.388 billion, Isoko South N2.178 billion, Okpe N1.706 billion, Oshimili North N1.141 billion, Oshimili South N1.524, Patani N1.141 billion, Sapele N1.473 billion, Udu N1.896 billion, Ughelli North N2.656 billion, Ughelli South N2.300 billion, Ukwuani N1.254 billion, Uvwie N1.166 billion, Warri North 1.189 billion, Warri South N1.506 billion and Warri South West N1.305 billion.
When contacted on the issue, secretary, Delta State Pension Bureau, Frank Atube, who was surprised over the leakage of the letter, declined to speak on the issue, saying “You know I cannot answer you. I am just seeing your number, you have not come officially to the office, I don’t know you. Please I cannot, please.”
Also contacted on the issue, chairman of Ika North East council and state chairman of Association of Local Government of Nigeria, (ALGON), Victor Ebonka, initially declined to speak but on a second thought, confirmed the N40 billion loan which he said would not even be enough to offset the pensioners backlog of debts.
According to Ebonka, “There’s nothing hidden about the whole thing. It is the exclusive duty and responsibility, statutorily of the local government councils to pay its workers and its pensioners, independent of the state. In actual sense, it’s not the responsibility of the state government to pay these pensioners but it’s the responsibility of the local government and the governor in his magnanimity doled out N5 billion from state fund to argument payment.”



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