I had to rest a while to allow Abians enjoy the new regime of Mazi Alex Otti after all the fireworks from Tribunal all through to the supreme Court. From the sideline, I have followed almost every news that emanated from Abia State including commentaries from those outside the State. Since he has rested from all the trips to and fro Nigeria courts, we can now take on some important issues of governance in our dear State.

While I personally wish Abia State a deserved progress, I will not fail to point out some grey areas the State government has failed to pay attention to.

It is common to praise a government when new roads are built and old ones rehabilitated. Beyond that, statistics has shown that Nigerians are easily hoodwinked by road projects, and there after fail to ask necessary questions that bother on other sectors of the economy.

As the then opposition, Mazi Otti argued that his government will prioritize transparency in all her dealings. He promised that contracts will be made public so that contractors can have level playing ground while bidding so that only good designs that serve the interest of the State will be approved. He lampoomed the former government for using Transition Chairmen when they can easily conduct local government elections. According to him, TC arrangement is a way of looting government fund by allowing State tamper with Local government resources. This was after the immediate past government conducted two Local government Elections.

Mazi Otti also promised to make every inflow into Abia coffers a public knowledge. He promised to conduct Abia government business from the seat of power in Umuahia. He also said that his government will not meddle into the affairs of House of Assembly as he considers them an independent body that should independently play a watch-dog role in the true definition of separation of power. He promised to pay arrears of pension and workers in all revenue generating institutions.

Let me take them sequencially…

  1. Mazi Otti went back to his vomit by appointing Transition Chairmen without nursing any plan to conduct LG election after several months in Office. Till date, no TC chairman is handed what is accrued to his local government for any form of infrastructural development despite the fact that revenue of each LG council has increased tremendously (See data)
  2. Till date, Abia is the only State that hid the subsidy income given by President Tinubu to ameliorate the effect of subsidy removal on civil servants. No worker received any wage increase despite the fact that President Tinubu provided the resources. Abia promised to purchase Coaster buses with #3b given to each State by President Tinubu for same purpose during the earlier subsidy era, till date, no mention of such scheme anywhere around the State. #3b misappropriated without any trace.
  3. Mazi Otti’s government allegedly connived with few members of Abia State House of Assembly and got approval for a loan of #100b from Access bank and #45b from Union Bank despite huge allocations of over #140b that has accrued to the State. Understand that because of increase in FAAC allocations, Imo, Anambra and Ebonyi shelved plans to borrow money to fund infrastructure. Why is the State government hiding behind closed doors to borrow huge sum with the connivance of few House members if those loans are justifiable?
    However, despite all the loans and FAAC, the State is yet to register projects worth over #20b in the entire State for 9 months, where did all the fund in excess of #265b travel to?
  4. If there is nothing fishy, why is the State government finding it difficult to disclose costs and terms of contracts of projects awarded to friends of Governor Otti in Abia? Why has he reneged on his transparency mantra?
  5. What necessitated the lies from Otti’s government that Abia didn’t have any equity share in geometrics Power if their intention was not to convert same to private ownership ?
  6. What aspect of the AFDB facility of $115m that was attracted and counterpart fund paid by the former administration which is being drawn by the present government is being deployed for roads projects? And what happened to the FAAC, $50m RAMP (Rural Roads) , Local Loans and other incomes if there is an existing fund for road projects?
  7. Why are pensioners receiving 30% of their pension despite the fact that allocation has quadrupled and many States without borrowing from any avenue, have cleared arrears of workers in their various States as directed by President Tinubu ?
  8. Till date, ABSU, Abia Poly, College of Education are yet to get a penny from the arrears promised them by the new government of Abia State. Those receiving monthly salaries are the same set of workers in MDAs that were not owed before he came on board. It is worthy to note that wage bill also reduced after he sacked thousands of workers in the civil service including all permanent secretaries.
  9. Mazi Otti made cases for local contractors while in the opposition, today, all Abia contracts are going to his friends in Lagos and Abuja while our youths in Abia are meant to clap while the resources of the State is being used to service friendship in Lagos and Abuja.

Despite the hullabaloo about roads and it’s intended deceit, Abians should be worried that the State government is in deep debt of over #400b with absolutely nothing to attract encomiums. Those who are sensible are discussing incomes and corresponding expenses..

I challenge the government to publish her income and the cost of road contracts awarded to cronies of the Governor and see if majority of Abians won’t shout in total disbelieve..

Ikechukwu Iroha , a data analyst, writes from Abuja..


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