My attention has been drawn to a statement released by the Governor of Abia State, Alex Chioma Otti, through his spokesman, wherein he attacked me for revealing to the public that he is using N30bn to complete the Port Harcourt Road, Aba project, the same project that was awarded in 2017 for N9bn with 40% of the work already done including establishment of drainages end to end, along with proper channels for storm water.
While I am unfazed by the tissue of lies and inaccuracies contained in the statement from Otti, it is instructive to note that during a radio program monitored in Umuahia today, the same Alex Otti confirmed that he is actually using N30bn to do the job and that there was neither a budgetary provision nor due process competitive bidding for the work.
Furthermore, if Otti believes that property owners along Port Harcourt Road, Aba should be given compensation, he has my personal support to do so now because government is a continuum and he is about to work on same road as started by the immediate past administration.
Let me remind Alex Otti for the purposes of his records that as of May 9, 2017 that the Port Harcourt Rd, Aba project was commenced, I was not a commissioner then and could not have harrassed, nor been in any position to harass anyone on that road because of the project as he told Abians on radio through his spokesman. I only became a commissioner in Abia State on October 17, 2017.
I also find no real issue with associating me with the successes and shortcomings of the Ikpeazu administration because as expected of any government, we met many challenges, solved many but couldn’t solve all the problems of Abia before we left office after 8 years. By the time Otti leaves office, too, he will also not have been able to solve all the state’s problems.
My position remains that he promised the people of Abia State transparency in governance, and I will continue to hold him accountable regardless of any threat to me or my family members.
In his inaugural address to the people of the state, Otti had said: “The time for the rebuilding process has begun. Transparency, accountability, and public trust shall be at the centre of everything we do.”
Based on the above statement, one then wonders why Otti is angry that a citizen is holding him to his words.
For the avoidance of doubt, the federal government does not currently publish monthly FAAC and IGR receipts by individual states. What they publish is the total amount of FAAC receipts available for sharing among Federal, State and LGAs. If Otti has a web address where we can get monthly FAAC and IGR receipts for Abia State, he should share it, please. If his problem is that I asked for transparent sharing of relevant information with citizens, as he promised, then he will continue to have issues with me.
I have also been made aware of allegations that his government sponsored the photoshopping and publication of fake nudes of a young woman who recently criticized the government as retaliation.
How did we get to the point that fingers are pointing at a government for producing and spreading fake nudes of a woman simply because she criticized the government? I hope women rights activists investigate this allegation promptly as it is despicable, barbaric and a new low for us, not only in Abia State but also in Nigeria as a whole.
While I wish to assure Alex Otti that he will never be able to intimidate opposition voices in Abia State, especially mine, so that he can run the finances of the State as his personal funds, I must also out of necessity inform the public that I have long been aware of his alleged plot against my personal safety and property. People close to his administration previously informed me that Otti is desperately seeking ways to frame me up for one crime or another after realizing that I personally discharged my official duties above reproach. This is not strange to me because a few years ago, he publicly lied against me by naming me as the author of a document I didn’t know existed at the time.
It appears to me that out of desperation, he has now gone ahead to attempt to instigate members of my community to act adversely against me by making false claims and subtle threats as captured below:
“What if the revered and accomplished people of Abiriba decide to sue Ikpeazu and John Okiyi Kalu today for alleged diversion of their funds? Abiriba people are known for detesting internal sabotage, so i think they should bring their son to justice for being an accomplice in the betrayal of the Kingdom.”
I challenge Mazi Otti to produce a shred of evidence that I diverted resources meant for my community under any guise within 24 hours or else I will take necessary action as I deem fit. He is now the Governor and has unfettered access to information on funds allocation and movement in the state in the past 24 years.
Please, Mr Otti, publish evidence of money or resources meant for my community that I allegedly stole or mismanaged, or forever hide your face in shame for trying to cause problems between me and my people.
As regards my official actions as Commisisoner for Information or Trade, I am proud of my work and stand by everything I did.
In any case, I have never been LGA Chairman in my life, hence couldn’t have managed the revenue of Ohafia LGA directly or indirectly. All I see is a frustrated Otti seeking to hang onto propaganda to create a crisis between me and my kinsmen and use that as a leeway to attempt to harm me and breach my properties, and then turn around to blame my people.
If hard-working and globally acclaimed Abiriba people ever want to sue anyone, it will be the man involved in illegally appropriating the properties of our late illustrious son whose will was posthumously forged for personal aggrandizement; it certainly is not me that discharged my official duties and made my people proud for my records in probity and accountability while holding public office.
In addition, I wish to bring to the notice of the Inspector General of Police, Mr Kayode Egbetokun, and the Director of State Services, Mr. Yusuf Magaji Bichi, the not so subtle threats to my life, freedom and property by Alex Otti. If anything happens to my person, loved ones or property, he should be held responsible.
Let me be clear: I am a citizen of Abia State and by the grace of God, a former public servant in the state. I do not believe that past administrations in the state should be the standard for measuring good governance or the lack of it and I vow to continue to hold the current Abia State Government accountable regardless of threats and plots against me by the governor and his hirelings.
No government that means well for the people attacks those seeking transparency, and Otti must always remember the admonition of Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to him and his team to “run a clean and transparent government.”
On that I stand and will continue to stand, and in doing so, I will never seek to malign or lie against anyone. If Otti does not like it, all I can say is, ‘sorry sir, I am just starting.’ Deliver better governance and stop deceiving the people of Abia State through funded online propaganda. The amount of state funds available to you has never been available to any of your predecessors within such a short period.
Lastly, Mr Otti, if you ever imagined you have bullied and threatened everyone in Abia State to submission and silence, please consider me the last man standing as I have no reason to be scared of you. We must collectively do the work of making our state better through good, transparent leadership embellished with constructive criticism. Nobody intimidates an Abiriba man under any guise, and I am a full blooded one at that.
Chief John Okiyi Kalu
Former Commissioner For Trade and Investment, Abia State