We Spent N223.4m on Meals, Entertainment, Not  N1 Billion, As Alleged, Says Abia Govt

We Spent N223.4m on Meals, Entertainment, Not  N1 Billion, As Alleged, Says Abia Govt

Emmanuel Ugwu-Nwogo in Umuahia

The Abia State government has expressed dismay over “distorted reports” on social media platforms purporting that Governor Alex Otti had, under three months, spent close to N1 billion on meals and entertainment.

The unsavoury buzz was sparked by a third quarter report on budget performance which the government posted on its website in line with its “commitment to transparency, good governance and fiscal discipline”.

The state Commissioner for Budget and Planning, Mr. Kingsley Anosike, told a press conference in Umuahia yesterday that the Abia opposition had orchestrated “some distortions” on some of the subheadings in the Q3 report.

He clarified that within the period under review the government spent N223, 389, 889.84 on meals and refreshments, which is just 24 percent of the purported N927 million being bandied about in the social media space.

Anosike further explained that the actual  expenditure on meals and entertainment did not represent figures only from the office of the Governor but from the entire government structure.

According to him, the figure was derived from aggregation of vouchers from the entire ministries, departments and agencies(MDAs) of government, totalling 74 in number hence it captures all expenses of the government on meals and entertainment.

“This figure is for the entire state and not for the Office of the Governor, as being wrongly alleged,” he said, adding, “the stated figure cover expenses for special events, such as retreats, conferences, and related events”.

Giving a breakdown of figures lumped for meals, entertainment and welfare, the commissioner said that “the Abia State Government has so far spent the sum of N397,520,734.84 on welfare”.

He stated that the welfare expenditure covers health issues, rehabilitation and emergencies, citing situations where people were involved in accidents and the government needed to bear the cost of medical care of the injured.

“The Welfare expenditure is in line with the State Fiscal, Transparency, Accountability, and Sustainability Programme(SFTAS), an initiative of the federal government,” he said.

Anosike, who was flanked by the Commissioner for Information, Prince Okey Kanu and members of Governor Otti’s media team, as well as the Special Adviser on Monitoring and Evaluation, Mr. Ugochukwu Okoroafor, flayed the opposition for mischievous misrepresentation of facts”.

In his remarks, the SA Monitoring and Evaluation said that the Alex Otti administration was open to constructive criticism and the opposition have the right to express their views.

But he condemned a situation where the opposition would engage in blatant lies, mischief and twisting of facts and figures, adding that “mischief from opposition is the price” that the Otti administration is paying “for good governance and transparency”.

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