Otti Explains High Costs of Projects in Abia
Emmanuel Ugwu-Nwogo in Umuahia
Renowned economist and frontline opposition politician, Mr. Alex Otti has decried the outrageous amount of money that the Abia State Government claims it spends on road projects. He said that lack of transparency in contract awards was responsible for the high cost of projects being executed by the administration of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu.
Otti expressed his concerns in a statement, pointing out that the handling of the Faulks road project in Aba, stands out as a classic example of a drain pipe for Abia resources.
He noted that during a recent radio interview, Governor Ikpeazu “admitted releasing extra N2.5 billion to the contractors handling Faulks Road” thereby confirming public perception that there was more to the project than meets the eye.
“If this sum is added to the N6.8 billion which (Ikpeazu) government previously claimed was spent on the construction of the road, we would be talking of N9.3 billion spent on the construction of a road of less than six kilometers.
“Whichever way you look at it, the Faulks road project has not only become an embarrassment to (Ikpeazu) government, but has obviously gulped very questionable amount of resources, while still remaining a nightmare to road users,” Otti said.
The former bank boss stated that it has now become obvious that Ikpeazu and some of his apologists “have now been left with the difficult task of continuously explaining why the road collapsed” shortly after it was inaugurated.
According to him, the previous excuses the Ikpeazu government had given for the collapse of the road, including activities of tile sellers, truck drivers, hot watern, noting “all Abians have indeed been blamed for the collapse of the road.”
“You may not be embarrassed, but Abia people are,” Otti told the Abia Governor.
“What happened at Faulks Road would have been avoided if sincerity, transparency and competence were taken into consideration in the award of the road contract as I have always advised, bearing in mind its strategic importance.
“Your government has also refused to come clean on who the contractor is and what the contract says about failure of the road before its commissioning. We must get our money back from whoever this contractor is, if not now, then later,” he said.
Aside from the issue of opacity in contract awards Otti also flayed the Abia governor for mocking Abia citizens who expressed concern over the slow pace of work on government projects, especially the endless construction of a flyover at Osisioma.
Ikpeazu had in the same radio interview ridiculed those who questioned the apparent inability of his administration to complete a single flyover started over six years ago.
The Abia chief executive had, in response mocked those questioning the slow pace of work, saying that the perceived irritants had no basis to ask him about the state of the flyover since “they don’t even have cars”.
But Otti faulted the governor’s response, saying that he was disrespectful, to Ndi Abia given that they have democratic right to ask about public projects being executed with their money held in trust by Ikpeazu.
He told Governor Ikpeazu that “the flyover concerns us” as Abians hence his contrary response was “a rude shock and unbelievable disappointment” to all well meaning people of Abia.
The opposition party chieftain described Ikpeazu’s attitude to his presumed irritants as “a self-inflicted leadership blunders which obviously gave room for such embarrassing public spectacle”.
According to him, the flyover gaffe has added to Ikpeazu’s “numerous miscalculated media gaffes that have become common in recent times, (thereby) making Abia the most hilarious comedy skit on social media”.