A brewing controversy has arisen in the Ebonyi House of Assembly, reportedly sparked by Governor David Umahi’s alleged request for a fresh N33 billion loan to be approved by the Assembly. This request, which comes just weeks before Governor Umahi’s term ends on May 29, 2023, has generated mixed reactions among residents of the state.
Many are questioning the need for such a large loan, considering that the state is already heavily indebted to local and international financial institutions to the tune of N75 billion.
Despite persistent pressures from Governor Umahi and his supporters, the House of Assembly has remained firm in its refusal to approve the N33 billion loan request. In fact, there have been calls from Assembly members to impeach the Speaker, Francis Ogbonna Nwifuru, if he refuses to resign. It is worth noting that Nwifuru is also the governor-elect of Ebonyi State and has been the Speaker of the House since 2015.
A document obtained by our correspondent, signed by the Public Relations Officer of the Ebonyi State House of Assembly, Mr. Egede Sylvester, titled “EBONYI SPEAKER UNDER FIRE TO RESIGN OR RISK IMPEACHMENT,” revealed that the Assembly members demanded the immediate resignation of Hon. Nwifuru and his deputy, Kingsley Ikoro, or face impeachment. This call comes just three weeks after Nwifuru was declared the winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission as governor-elect of the state.
The Majority Leader of the House, Hon. Victor Chukwu, was quoted in the document as saying, “The members of the House are no longer satisfied with the leadership of the House under the administration of Chief Francis Nwifuru and urge him to resign in his honour and for the betterment of the State Assembly and the state at large.”
In response, Nwifuru acknowledged the grievances of his colleagues and thanked them for bringing them to his attention, urging caution for the peace and development of the state.
Meanwhile, Nwifuru, who is also the Governor-elect, denied reports of being threatened with impeachment if he did not resign to prepare for his swearing-in as governor on May 29.
He also clarified that the only request from the executive arm of government was for remittances from the excess crude account, specifically for 60% of the funds to be used to offset the state’s liabilities to the Federal Government, and that the loan request was not accurate.
The Special Assistant to Governor David Umahi on Media and Strategy, Mr. Chooks Okoh, stated that there was no official statement regarding the loan request but emphasized that whatever the governor did was always in the interest and development of the state.