Senator Ekwunife In A Scandal Of Two Hundred And Fifty-Five Million Naira (₦250,000,000) Technology Training Funds
By Efe Davidson
Information reaching us has it that the Senator representing Anambra Central Senatorial District in the 9th Senate, Sen. Lilian Uche Ekwunife is enmeshed in a scandal of diverting funds meant for the training of Youths in her Constituency.
The Federal Government of Nigeria through the Federal Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation released over ₦250,000,000 for the ‘Training and Empowerment of Youths in the 7 LGAs of Anambra Central on Renewal Energy and Devices in Anambra State’. The Federal Ministry used Centre For Energy Research and Development Nsukka to facilitate the program.
Sen. Ekwunife who is the Chairman Senate Committee on Science Technology got the money for the program which she went ahead to organize in collaboration with NASENI.
After the training which started on 22nd November and ended 26th November, 2022, participants started agitating on how they were shortchanged by the organizers. They claimed that Sen. Ekwunife who organized the program did not give them ₦25,000 meant for participants logistics for the 5days of the training that was held at International Conference Centre (ICC) Awka. The participants who were initially oblivious of the monetary attachments of the program started their complaints when one of the organizers in course of discussion with one of them asked if they have gotten all the monies accrued to them.
Following up on their agitations, we learnt that the participants supposed to have taken ₦25,000 per youth during the program and ₦500,000 per youth at the completion of the training. The ₦500,000 as approved is meant for start up for those who successfully learnt Solar Installation and Maintenance.
An official of NASENI who spoke on the condition of anonymity explained that they were in Anambra State for a follow-up with the money meant for the training and to monitor the success of the training but was surprised to realize that the participants were not paid their entitlements by the lawmaker.
“We will file our reports and submit them to the Headquarters and it’s up to them to take necessary actions. The report is the only thing we can do in this matter. What happened here is one of those means lawmakers steal public funds. Each of these participants is meant to earn ₦500,000 aside their ₦25,000 for feeding and accommodation. I will give you documents to back this up because we will definitely file our report. We individually interviewed them and the response was the same. No start-up money was paid as at the time they were receiving their certificates. For the accommodation and feeding, they confided in me that they got only ₦10,000 each.” – he concluded.
Another official of the Centre of Energy Research at the University of Nigeria Nsukka where the money was lodged through the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, refused to speak on the issue. One of the Staff of the Centre who also spoke on the condition of anonymity explained that the issue is not new because it has been the culture where politicians propose huge sums of money for a particular program or project and come through the backdoor to take the huge sum for their personal enrichment. He claimed that politicians perfect this style of scam through organizing ineffective programs with loud media publicity for campaign purposes.
This scandal on Sen. Ekwunife is worrisome because the Senator representing Anambra South Senatorial District, Sen. Ifeanyi Ubah got same money for the Training of Youths in Anambra South Senatorial District and has publicly announced and promised to organize a special program where the Youths will learn and equally get their ₦500,000 which is meant for their start-up. Public declaration of this same program by Sen. Ifeanyi Ubah has given credence to this ₦250,000,000 million scandal by Sen. Ekwunife.
As at the time of filing this report, none of the Youths who participated in the program has gotten any other fund apart from the ₦10,000 given to them on the final day of the program. Davidsblog will equally update the readers when we confirm they have completely received the funds they were supposed to get from the Federal Government.
Sen. Ekwunife is now left with the option of releasing back the money meant for the training of the Anambra Central Youth Technology Training Program. The organizers can still contact the participants for the money accrued to them by the Federal Government.