Chief Edward Nkwegu, Chairman of the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) in Ebonyi State, has revealed that no fewer than 13,000 volunteers took part in the Federal Government’s sponsored special works programme in the state.
Nkwegu who disclosed this in an interview with newsmen on Tuesday in Abakaliki, said that the programme recorded huge success in Ebonyi, adding that five participants were drawn from each of the 1,785 polling units.
According to him, the number represented about 70 per cent of beneficiaries, adding that the remaining 30 per cent was distributed among the political office holders in the state.
“The 30 per cent was distributed among the governor, minister, senators and other high profile political office holders,” Nkwegu said.
He said that more than 90 per cent of beneficiaries had received their stipends of N66000 spread for a period of three months.
“In Ebonyi, the scheme was structured in such a way that only the downtrodden ones were beneficiaries; it was made 70 per cent for the itenerant workers while 30 per cent were allocated to political office holders to take to their wards.
“It is a very big success story in our state; infact, it is our formula that have been used in other states. “Most of the beneficiaries have received their stipends except those who have issues with their Bank Verification Number (BVN).
“There are those who used different names in opening bank account and another name for registering the BVN.So,
these are the few that are still having issues with their banks and as soon as they rectify the problem,they will receive their credit alert,” Nkwegu said.
He noted that FG had indicated readiness to continue with the programme, but hinted that the fresh edition would kick-start as soon as fund was made available.
“FG says the programme will continue but due to the capital intensive nature of the programme, next batch will commence across the 774 local government areas in Nigeria once fund is made available,” he added.
Nkwegu spoke on the clamour to zone the governorship position to the Ebonyi North Senatorial district of the state, saying that zoning as a formula was designed to accommodate various interests and reduce political tensions.
He said that zoning had helped to shape the political structure and sociology of the state since the inception of the present republic in 1999.He said: “Recall that the first executive governor in the person of Sen. Sam Egwu was from Ebonyi North; Chief Martin Elechi who succeeded him in 2007 was from the Ebonyi Central senatorial zone.
“Gov. Dave Umahi from Ebonyi South took over from Elechi in 2015 and by 2023 he will complete his two terms in office.
“The zoning system has helped the state to navigate some of the political tensions associated with transiting from one elected government to another.
“Many people appreciate that this formula is what has been working for the state; so for me, I think that we should work with that since it has favoured the state.
“It first began in 1999 with Ebonyi North and since it has gone round, courtesy demand that the second should start from Ebonyi North where it all started.
“Nkwegu, an industrialist who contested Ebonyi governorship in 2015 under the platform of Labour Party (LP) also indicated his intention to run for governorship seat in the 2023 general elections under the banner of the All Progressives Congress (APC).