INSIDE ABIA: DRAMA AS HIGH PROFILE RELATIVE OF IKPEAZU ALLEGEDLY DIVERTS #200M MEANT FOR SME IN THE STATE
Drama has continued to unfold in Abia State as N200 million got missing, high profile relative to the governor allegedly linked to the scandal and a Commissioner in the State threatened over information leakage.
Report reaching AFNEWS from a reliable source, who claimed anonymous, has alleged a sudden disappearance of N200 million (not N250M) SME Microfinance bank fund in Abia State. “This fund which was approved by the Governor Okezie Ikpeazu led administration to promote small and medium scale enterprises and create millionaires in Abia State was allegedly diverted and squandered by few politicians who meant no well for the State.” The source maintained.
“Recall that the Governor, Dr. Okezie Victor Ikpeazu, during his first tenure, created the Ministry of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) with the aim of driving the needed development to the commercial nerve centre (Aba) that has been in a critical state over the years. Upon creation of this Ministry
The Governor had received a proposal by the then commissioner for SME, Barr. Gabe Igboko for the establishment of an Abia SME Microfinance bank to assist Abians, especially, the artisans and small scale businessmen.” The source revealed
Furthermore, AFNEWS gathered that the State Government led by Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu, upon receipt of the proposal set up a committee made up of Dr. Eme Okoro, former Secretary to the State Government (SSG), as the Chairman, Implementation Committee; and the then Commissioner for SME, Barr. Gabe Igboko Esq, was the Abia State/ Coordinator; Implementation Committee. Other members were; Elder Udochukwu Ogbonna, former Chairman, Abia State Board of Internal Revenue (BIR); Mr. Chinenye Nwaogu, SSA to the Governor on Youth Development and Job Creation; Mrs. Ijeoma Chukwuma, Director of Finance, Head of Service, Abia State, while Mr. Austin Akuma regional Manager, keystone Bank represented the Bank.
Immediately, the Committee applied for a state microfinance bank license through the Central Bank of Nigeria, which was in the category of N100million with the sole aim of the SME Microfinance Bank branches in all the 17 Local Government Areas of the state, with an operating office as the headquarters as stated in the proposal. However, our source maintained that due to the paucity of funds, the State Government could not immediately raise N100million to acquire the license for the Microfinance Bank from the Central Bank. Hence, tortured by the delay, the committee approached Keystone Bank for a loan facility of N200million naira, only, which was grabbed with interest not specified by the source who spoke to AFNEWS.
“As Abians began to yawn for an explanation after three years as there were no Microfinance Bank Offices in all the 17 LGAs of Abia, and the only half-baked microfinance in No. 17b Ngwa road Aba, which was commissioned by the Governor on Monday, 16th December 2019 is no longer working as the Central Bank of Nigeria denied issuing a license to them, the scandal began to unfold.” The source said.