CEM REPORT | David Umahi the executive governor of Ebonyi State has built a N1.2 billion governor’s lodge in Abuja.
The governor claims that the lodge is the best in the country noting that the existing one in Maitama, Abuja, was not fit enough for him to discharge his duties.
Umahi while speaking with journalists after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa explained that the project had been completed in June 2022 and was at the villa to invite the president for the commissioning which the president had agreed to.
Explaining how the project began he said he bought 3,000 square meters of land in Asokoro, Abuja, in 2016, for the building of the new lodge Premium Times reports.
“Luckily, I got land at a very good price, at N350 million and I paid in 2016 but I didn’t start building until about November 2020. And by June 2022, I had completed it.”
Governor Umahi stated that the lodge was a statement that would help to build the self-confidence of the Ebonyi people and overcome the feeling that they are being marginalised.
“And to some people, we use it to punish those of them that neglect us. They are being punished by this gigantic project. And my projects are projects you can’t find anywhere in the South-east. You can crosscheck that. So, it is punishment,”
“When I say it is the best governor’s lodge anywhere in this country. I mean, it’s the best governor’s lodge anywhere in this country.”
When asked about the cost of the building, he said he could not give the exact amount the project gulped, he is certain that the cost was within N1.2 billion.
“I wouldn’t be able to say how much it took, but I know it should be under… if it’s up to N1 billion, it cannot be more than N1.2 billion. But when you see it, you will think it is something built with N10 billion. Mark my words, you will not find any other lodge not like that (in Nigeria).”
Although such buildings as a governor’s lodge in Abuja is not an alien structure as many states own one. The building is used by state governors and other officials of the state governments for hosting visitors and lodging during meetings in Abuja.
However, for Ebonyi State who was ranked the fourth poorest state in Nigeria and the least in the South-east, regarding economic development by the National Bureau of Statistics, in 2020 one would be forced to wonder where the funding to put up such a structure flew from.
As of July 28 2022 a report by BudgIT, a civic organisation, showed that Ebonyi State was among eight states yet to pay its pensioners in the last six months.
BudgIT said it conducted the survey to spotlight and identify state governments that have “consistently failed” to meet the essential requirements of governance and employee compensation in Nigeria.
Furthermore, data available in public space reveals that the state seats on a debt of over N41 billion.
Although, Umahi has since denied the report, claiming his administration never owed salaries in the state.
Critics on social media continue to spring forth, the majority of the critic says the governor does not need a lodge in Abuja since he doesn’t reside or perform his functions from there.
Many have urged him to take a cue from a past governor and spend in the right direction.
Mr Umahi, a member of Nigeria’s ruling party, the All Progressive Congress, will exit office as governor in May 2023.