Cost of Governance Down in Abia, Otti Declares, Says Only Necessary Expenditure Permitted

Emmanuel Ugwu-Nwogo in Umuahia

Abia State Governor, Alex Otti, has stated that the cost of governance has drastically reduced  over the past 10 months he took charge of the affairs of the state.

He stated this at the weekend during his monthly media chat at Government House in Umuahia, adding that he has banished frivolous spending in his government.

According to him, “We’ve been able to rein in cost of governance. It’s tough, but we have to do it. If any expenditure is not necessary, we leave it.”

Otti also stated that he has not borrowed a dime for the ongoing road projects across the state, noting that the funding was made possible by the reduction in cost of governance.

He said that his administration has deployed effective management of resources and expenditure hence the state was keeping to his promise of using Abia State money to work for the state.

The governor said: “We’ve been able to manage (our resources). We’ve been able to cut costs. We’re doing financial engineering.”

The economist and former bank chief further stated that the era of frivolous spending was gone in Abia State, pointing out that his predecessor increased the debt profile of the state from N34.4 billion to N192 billion, yet had nothing to show for it.

“I have been asking to where the money went,” he said, adding that the immediate past governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, incurred N157.6 billion, mostly in bank overdrafts, in addition to N34.4 billion he inherited from his predecessors.

Otti acknowledged that the opposition had accused him of borrowing N145 billion, which he said was false allegation and propaganda.

He said the Debt Management Office(DMO) has vindicated his administration as the agency did not list Abia in its latest report on states that have borrowed money.

He noted that since the DMO has spoken, the Abia opposition “has shut up because they could not hold on any substance to persist with their false claims.”

The governor said he means well for the state hence Abians should “take it for granted” that they have “a government that is listening and working for the people and not for those with vested interests.”

On the inherited pension arrears, Otti declared that he has cleared the debt owed the retirees, adding that it was an aberration if any retiree did not receive the bank alert for the payment. He promised that those affected would be cleared and paid like others.

Otti said that N10 billion was earmarked to clear the mountainous pension arrears that dated back to 2014, adding that, so far, N9 billion has been paid out to 12,500 verified pensioners.

Explaining the modalities used in paying the pension arrears, Otti said that it was done in the spirit of the agreement with the state leadership of the Nigerian Union of Pensioners (NUP).

He said that the amount earmarked for the payment was put in the basket and progressive method was used to determine what each pensioner should receive in order to achieve equitable payment.

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