Gov. Alex Otti of Abia State has told his predecessor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu that defecting to the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, as he is allegedly planning to, would not stop anti-graft agencies from probing him over the huge debt his administration plunged the state into.
Otti who stated this in Umuahia on Thursday, claimed that the Ikpeazu administration bequeathed to him a debt of over N191,239,307,593.67.
Governor Otti who spoke through his Special Adviser on Finance, Mr Mike Akpara, also refuted claims by Ikpeazu’s aides that the former Governor left N24 billion, and another $250 million for the incumbent administration.
Akpara who read from a prepared speech entitled:” Abia Financial Status: Separating Ikpeazu’s Fictions”, said there was no iota of claims in the ex-Governor’s “fictitious claims”.
He said:”The Alex Otti led-government woke up to the shocking news of the several billions of naira allegedly left behind for the Alex Otti led-government by the former government of Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu.
“We waited to see if Ikpeazu or his Spokespersons would refute the false and offensive claims, but to no avail, rather we saw astronomical increase in the number of his allies and former aides circulating the fake news with the intention to misrepresent facts and deceive the public, especially workers and pensioners whom he treated with utter disdain and disregard.
“For the records, the public should note thus: The Okezie Ikpeazu-led government did not leave any N24 billion in the account of Abia state government as they falsely claimed.
“The $200 million and $50 million dollars they claimed they left for the new administration are loans they were pursuing which is yet to crystalize.
Outside the humongous financial liabilities left behind by the Ikpeazu-led government, they also left physical liabilities in all our key institutions. For example; our University Teaching Hospital lost accreditation for the first time in history.
“Our only state Polytechnic also lost accreditation. The regulatory authorities predicated their action against these institutions on non-payment of salaries, lack of equipment and lack of infrastructure.
“Poor internal generation of revenue, with the little they generated frittered away in payment to consultants for no added value. They pay as much as 20% which is highly unethical.
“Doctors who have been on strike since February 2023 just called off their strike, and they emphatically stated that they based their decision on their conviction that Governor Otti would solve the problem that necessitated the strike action.
“The elementary question is: if Ikpeazu had the billions he claimed to have left behind for the Otti led-government in April and May, why did he not pay workers and pensioners before leaving office, since Governor Otti just took over from him on the 29th of May 2023?
If Ikpeazu is trying to preempt anti-corruption agencies by making such provocative false claims, he should know that they work with facts and figures, therefore, even if he runs into the APC to seek refuge as he is planning to do, these anti corruption agencies would pursue and bring him to justice from there.”
Otti further said that the Ikpeazu administration looted the state treasury and even “picked N2.8 Sure-P fund that dropped into the State’s account three days before Ikpeazu left office”.
He said that but for the frantic efforts made by some of his (Otti’s) Aides, another N3 billion Joint Allocation revenue that accrued to the state at the eve of Ikpeazu’s exit would also have been collected by the ex-Governor and his agents.
He said that the anti-graft agencies were already on their trail, adding that some of his bankers had already given statements at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
Otti re-affirmed his commitment to pay workers before the 28th of every month, adding that arrangements are being put in place to wipe all outstanding pension arrears before December 31, 2023.
Akpara was flanked at the briefing by the Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Publicity, Ferdinand Ekeoma; the Accountant General of the State, Mrs Njum Onyemenam; and the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Kazie Uko.