Emmanuel Ugwu in Umuahia
Abia State Government monday said the report of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Offences Commission (ICPC) on how states governors managed the bailout funds has vindicated the state Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, and erased all doubts about how the state share of the bailout was spent.
The state government had received N14 billion bailout to clear backlog of salary arrears but the opposition camp had been alleging that the money was not fully applied for the purpose for which it was meant.
In the ICPC report published last Friday, Abia State and two other states were singled out for judicious application of the bailout funds among the 23 states that received the intervention funds.
In a statement issued yesterday, the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. Godwin Adindu, said the published report by the ICPC which ranked Abia State among the very few states that did not divert their bailout funds was a confirmation of Ikpeazu’s “sincerity of purpose in managing the fund.”
According to him, this goes to confirm the credibility and transparency of governance in state, adding that: “The endorsement by the ICPC is a vindication to Ikpeazu on the discretion he exercised in the handling of the fund.”
Adindu explained that the N14 billion given to the state as bailout money was “a far cry from the N39 billion it needed to offset backlog of salaries, pensions and gratuities hence the governor gave assurance that the bailout would not be diverted for any other purpose apart from which it was meant for.
“To achieve that aim, the governor had to adopt a very unique approach by setting up an independent committee headed by the leadership of the labour unions in the state with a mandate that the funds must be deployed for its purpose, and that was the settlement of arrears of salaries, pensions and gratuities of workers.”
Meanwhile, Ikpeazu has reassured his people that he has no plans to relocate the Ariara International Market in Aba, saying his agenda is to make it an all season market.
He made the clarification at the weekend during a thanksgiving mass in his honour by the Catholic Diocese of Aba in conjunction with Aba Landlords Protection and Development Association (ALPADA) at the Christ the King (CKC) Catholic Cathedral, Aba.
The governor stated that his government had intensified efforts to control flood in the market, warning that any structure that obstructs the exercise will be pulled down.
He therefore disclosed that Setraco Nigeria Limited would commence construction work on Faulks road to check flooding and promised that his administration would continue to rehabilitate roads in Aba and other parts of the state.
Earlier, the Diocesan Administrator, Rev Anthony Ajuonu, lauded Ikpeazu’s efforts in fixing decayed infrastructure, which he said had been the bane of the commercial city, adding that: “God would use the governor to liberate the people.”