1. By letters dated February 1, 2016 and May 9 2016, Senator Utazi intimated the Central Bank of the need for a Graduate/Youth Empowerment and Entrepreneurship Programme for his Constituency, Enugu North Senatorial District and his intention to guide constituents to tap into, and benefit from, the various empowerment schemes of the Central Bank. The programme is intended to meet a real need to impart specific skills on constituents with a view to make them self-reliant and creators of labour. He followed up with visits to the Governor of the Central Bank who referred him to the Department of Development Finance.
  2. The Department advised that the Senator liaises with the CBN’s South East Entrepreneurship Development Centre, SEEDC, based in Umuahia. There has been several interfaces and follow-ups with the Department.
  3. The Senator personally visited all the Local Governments of the District to sensitize interested participants about the programme. He also, at great personal own cost, moved some personnel of the SEEDC to Nsukka to anchor the Trainings.
  4. From the initial 6000 persons, about 1,600 candidates have, after the screening gone through the rigorous process of documentation, training, internship and other requirements of the programme. These candidates paid a non-refundable registration fee of N5,000 to the CBN’s SEEDC.
  5. It is important to state that the Senator leveraged on his office to get the Vice Chancellor of UNN and other Industrial outfits to agree to make their institutions available for the internship of the candidates.
  6. After receiving guidance for the writing of bankable business proposals, the Candidates were asked to open accounts with Sterling Bank with the sum of N10,000 each for the disbursement of the loans/Start-Ups. In addition, the Candidates were asked by Sterling Bank to deposit the originals of their educational certificates as guarantee for repayment; others were asked to bring guarantors who would deposit with Sterling Bank a post-dated cheque to the value of N3,000,000 as further guarantee. Patiently, the candidates complied.
  7. The trainings were conducted in two batches of about 800 persons for each batch. Yet, not one single person has received any loan after the very excruciating steps the candidates were asked to undertake. There is no explanation why the loans have not been disbursed, even with Sterling Bank keeping custody of their original educational certificates.
  8. It is important that we understand the implication of holding somebody’s original certificates. Simply, the person cannot get employed elsewhere, were he to have the opportunity, and yet, the reason why his certificate are being withheld has not be fulfilled.
  9. This matter is causing heavy disquiet in the Senatorial District, with a lot of the people insinuating that the N5,000 registration fee was paid to me and making imputations of fraud. It can only be imagined what political price that will entail, in an election season.
  10. I am more concerned that the purpose of the programme be realized so that constituents can be empowered, through this collaboration I am doing with the CBN, and thus help in ameliorating the high unemployment level in my constituency and thus make more young people creators of both labour and wealth. It is a passionate undertaking that is a life-long objective, and not a political gesture. I truly care about empowerment and would want that the CBN help me to ensure that this programme succeeds.