From IHEANACHO NWOSU, Abuja
Former Vice President, Dr. Alex Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme, may have enjoyed the glamour that came with his 80th birthday anniversary, but the dust raised over allegation against leadership of the organising committee is trying to be a blight on the event. Frontline politician and three-time governorship candidate in Imo State, Dr. Ezekiel Izuogu is pushing the leadership of the committee to render account of the income and expenditure for the celebration, which lasted one week.
The man at the centre of the row, Dr. Ken Nnamani, a former president of the Senate, said he had long rendered the account, as demanded. He said that his committee had rendered account in writing to all the people involved in the celebration. According to Nnamani, “I have computed how much was raised for the event and how much was expended. We still have some money left and we will use it to do a documentary, which we will soon run in the media.”
Former National Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), one of the leaders of the planning committee, Dr, Okwesilieze Nwodo, also dismissed claims that the committee is being rocked by crisis over rendering of accounts on how much was expended. The trio spoke to Saturday Sun in separate interviews. Izuogu asked Nnamani to explain how much his committee realised for the event and how much that was spent. He claimed that Nnamani and Nwodo were keeping him at arms length because of his insistence on accountability.
He said: “I’m not out to run anybody down. The event has come and gone, but I think it is desirable that Nnamani and his committee should render an account. “South East Forum (SEF) for which I am the National Chairman, initiated this celebration. Dr Alex Ekwueme is a leader of the group. We got his approval to organise a dinner at Transcorp Hotel for him. We constituted a planning committee led by Chief Nnamani. At the inauguration of the committee, we gave him and his members terms of reference.”
He narrated further: “Nnamani however, dumped the terms of reference SEF handed to him after he met with Anambra State Governor, Mr. Peter Obi. They changed the budget for the celebration without our knowledge. They started keeping away from me and the SEF leadership, but I continued to press for accountability. I insisted that we should open an account. We later opened an account with Diamond Bank.
Nnamani, Nwodo and I were the signatories, but that was the only thing I knew about the account.” On what he expects from his demand, Izuogu said: “They are responsible and highly respected people and I don’t see them turning down my request. I do know that everybody is afraid of me because I will always insist on accountability.” On their part, Nnamani and Nwodo believe that Izuogu is deliberately trying to smear their reputation.
The former Senate President said: “I have respect for Izuogu, but I will not take kindly to somebody running me down for what I do not know. We have distributed a printed copy of the amount of money that was generated, the amount used for the celebration and the amount that is left, which will be used for documentary of the celebrant. “Anybody who knows me knows that I give priority to probity and transparency.
All the South East governors participated in the celebration and none of them is complaining about the handling of the money that was raised for it. The committee was made up of prominent people. Okwesilieze Nwodo was there. Former House of Reps Speaker, Agunwa Anaekwe, was also a member. We did everything transparently and the record is there for whoever that wants to see.” In the same, vein Nwodo said that he was surprised that Izuogu was pointing fingers at the committee when there was no reason for that.
He said: “The record of what was got and spent is there. It is sad that Izuogu is engaging in this smear campaign. There’s no basis for that.”