News Column

Capital Market Bond and Elechi's Legacies

June 6, 2014

AN overwhelming majority of the people of Ebonyi State are in total support of the plan of their Governor, Chief Martin Elechi to access bond issue from the Capital Market in order to complete major legacy projects of his administration before leaving office.

But few misguided individuals, obviously from the camp of the opposition, have been embarking on a campaign of calumny, including sponsoring negative reportage aimed at creating bad blood between the government and the people. Unfortunately for them, Elechi's popularity has continued to soar as Ebonyi people now prefer to address their well-beloved Governor as Mandela; and the reason for this is quite clear.

Before he became Governor in 2007, Elechi has spent nearly four decades of his life fighting for the emancipation of the people, including leading the struggle for the creation of Ebonyi State which became a reality in 1996. With his track record of service therefore, the people have the unflinching confidence that the man they equally call "Father of Ebonyi State" would do nothing that would either lead to wastage or compromise the future of their children.

Variously, some critics had raised issues in which they exhibited complete ignorance of what Capital Market Bond is meant for. Most of the positions of critics on the matter exposes that they either have never visited Ebonyi State in the last five years or deliberately chose to stand truth in the head in order to satisfy some political interest.

In the first place, the position that Governor Elechi is seeking another N15 billion Bond Issue when nothing has been done to service the N16.5billion he took on behalf of the State four years ago has no basis on truth.

The truth, however, is that Ebonyi State Government has serviced the previous Bond it took four years ago up to 90% which is the highest any Governor had done concerning capital market bonds. If the writer had spent little time to do research, he would have been availed of this fact.

Such a research would also have educated the writer that before you get bond from the capital market, the under-writers would have to subject you to all manners of scrutiny, including financial integrity as managers, capacity to repay as well as viability of projects for which the bond is intended.

So many state governments that took initial bonds cannot go back to the capital market because of their failure to service them. Ebonyi is the only state whose application for bond was processed just 10 months after application and this speaks volume of the respect the operators of the market has for the State and its leadership.

To suggest that the Governor should not be in haste to complete on-going projects, as the writer preferred, simply begs the question. On the contrary, Governor Elechi's commitment to ensuring that no project is left uncompleted by his administration should be commended.

His sincerity on this could also be ascertained from the fact that projects left over by his predecessor have received adequate attention with most of them already completed by him. A few of these include the International Conference Centre; the five star hotel now called the Rice City Hotel, the Trade Centre, State Library Headquarters and the Unity Square, among others.

Rather than leaving a burden for the incoming administration, completing such projects would make governance easier for the next Governor as the need to embark on them again would not arise. Again, these legacy projects for which the bond is being sought would generate income for the State, thereby increasing the much sought-after Internally Generated Revenue, IGR, an alternative to oil rents from Abuja.

For the avoidance of doubt and maybe to refresh the minds of these faceless detractors, the Abakaliki International Market started by Elechi's administration is almost completed and would be commissioned very soon. With a total of 5,600 stalls, the market is planned to become one of the largest single markets in Nigeria. It boasts of several modern facilities that include banks, fire service, about 2,000-vehicle capacity parking lots, warehouses and public conveniences which combine to make it a potential International Trade Centre.

Another legacy project for which the bond facility becomes necessary is the Ocho Udo City, a living monument that would make every Ebonyi man and woman proud. The same is true of the State's Independent Power Project which has equally reached an advanced state of completion.

The project is aimed at generating 10MW of electricity to add to the current power supply in the State with special focus to power; the Oferekpe Water Scheme, the State University, Ocho Udo City, EBBC radio and television stations and the International Market, among others. Of equal significance is the Oferekpe water project, one of the biggest in Nigeria, is now completed with the laying of pipes on-going.

It is expected that when inaugurated this year, the perennial problem of potable water will become a thing of the past as the 13 LGAs and the entire Ebonyi State will be reticulated in addition to water from the rehabilitated Ezillo Regional Water Scheme. It is for the completion of these projects that Ebonyi people have lined up behind Governor Elechi to go ahead with his plans to obtain Capital Market Bond.

To suggest that the Governor wants the bond to fund his senatorial campaign is therefore laughable as Chief Elechi was not a money bag when the people overwhelmingly voted him as their Governor in 2007.

With his enviable track record of achievements, especially in the last seven years, his senatorial project would surely be a walkover.

BONAVENTURE MELAH, a public affairs analyst, wrote from Abuja.

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Source: AllAfrica

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