Tireless Anambra State politician and former Governor of the state, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, has raised a serious issue bordering on the federal government’s claims that it approved N1bilion, part of which had been spent, in readiness for the burial of former Vice President, Dr Alex Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme.
The late elder statesman is billed for final interment on February 2 in Oko, Anambra State.
Responding to a question on the amount, Ezeife averred that “I do not doubt that the Federal Government may have spent such a huge amount but my worry is how much of it that may have entered private pockets. How much is the burial envelope and what are the plans for the burial? I don’t know what to believe but if it is true that such an amount has been budgeted for the burial, it is unreasonable.”
It would be recalled that the Minister of Labour, Dr. Chris Ngige, was quoted as saying that the Federal Government approved N1bilion, part of which had been spent,.
As at Tuesday, the Chairman of the South-east burial committee, Prof. Simeon Ortuanaya, denied that his committee has received assistance from the Federal Government’s N1bn in planning the burial.
He noted that “We were shocked to hear that. We did not see any such money. We read it from the newspaper”, he said.The Anglican Bishop of Enugu Diocese, Rt. Rev. Emmanuel Chukwuma, who was part of the dignitaries that received Ekwueme’s remains at the Akanu Ibiam, Enugu airport had queried the claim as “unacceptable.” He said the Federal Government should explain how the N1 billion was spent, stressing that the late Ekwueme, being a man of accountability, would not be happy with such an amount being spent on him, especially in the face of the infrastructure challenges in his South-east region.
Expressing his views on the N1bn federal allocation for late Ekwueme’s burial, the Emeritus President of a pan-Igbo organisation, Aka Ikenga, Chief Goddy Uwazuruike, said “I think it is incredible news. It’s too fantastic. I can’t imagine the Federal Government spending such on a man his family single-handedly took care of while he was sick as well as ensured that he was flown abroad. If you are building a new road to Oko, of course that is expected because you need the road to pass through. If you are rehabilitating the Akanu Ibiam Airport that is also expected. But to bury Ekwueme with such an amount is unthinkable.
“Such a sum was not voted anywhere as there have never been signs that the Federal Government made Ekwueme its responsibility while he lived. If they used the money to build a road from Awka to Oko and Owerri, people will be happy and appreciate the government. So I think it is an insult to the Ekwueme family for anybody to make such a claim. What did the Federal Government do to show that Ekwueme served this country well when he was alive? Ekwueme used his personal resources to build the polytechnic in his Oko community as well as the hotel around his place as part of efforts to develop his community. What can we say has been government’s contribution? Are they saying they loved him this much? It is sad that someone is saying all these.”