Re: Time for Ikpeazu to Leave Alex Otti to Perform

By Enyinnaya Appolos

An old saying, “A bad workman always blames his tools,” is the best way to describe the Abia State Governor, Alex Otti, who, through an unnamed writer, authored a wishy-washy and baseless tantrum, with the above headline, which regrettably was published by a respectable newspaper like ThisDay, thereby calling its reputation into question.

It is laughable that Otti is trying to blame his predecessor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, for his obvious failures in his one-year-old regime of hostility and reckless spending in Abia State. One wonders what he intends to achieve by dragging Ikpeazu into his woes in Abia State. 

How can Otti blame Dr. Ikpeazu for the malfeasances in his regime as contained in Abia’s Budget Performance Reports published by the Abia State Government on their website? In these reports, Otti claimed to have spent billions of Abia State money on nonexistent projects such as: Construction of Office Buildings – ₦1,768,611,372.06, Construction of Hospitals – ₦1,070,000,000.00, Rehabilitation of Hospitals/Health Centres – ₦875,095,332.50, Construction of ICT Infrastructures – ₦2,458,582,165.00, among many other suspected fraudulent expenditures including using ₦3,002,036,968.31 for Research & Development. 

These were some of the things that Abians saw, and like God who said that He regretted creating man, they now regret supporting Otti because they have come to realize that he was overrated and that he (Otti) lied to them about who he truly is.

Recall that shortly after his declaration as Governor-elect, Otti threw caution and protocol to the wind and began to act as a substantive governor. Not minding that the outgoing governor, Ikpeazu, was still in charge, he organized a charade in the name of inspecting the 5.7-kilometer Port Harcourt Road, an ongoing project with drainages done on both sides by Hartland Construction Company, which the Ikpeazu administration awarded in 2017. Today, according to Otti, Julius Berger is constructing the 5.7-kilometer Port Harcourt Road for a total contract sum of N32bn.

While Ikpeazu was ready for a proper handover of government to Otti on May 29, 2023, Otti preferred a hostile takeover. Meanwhile, Ikpeazu left about N3bn in state government coffers, which KPMG financial reports later confirmed.

Upon assuming office, Otti sacked all Permanent Secretaries in the state and appointed a junior officer as Head of Service ahead of some directors in the state civil service. While the state was still reeling from that, he sacked over 10,000  workers duly employed by the previous administration. Naturally, this became a destabilizer to his despotic regime.

Otti has always looked for a way to drag Ikpeazu’s name to rationalize his overwhelmed regime. He claimed to have cleared pensions for nine years, only to discover when fact-checked that he only paid nine months’ arrears of pensions owed by his own administration.

Talking about the N10bn airport funds which Otti alleged were spent on nonexistent project during one of his frequent trips abroad, the facts have since been brought forth about how the state government secured a contract-finance loan from a commercial bank with the intention of commencing the construction of an airport.

However, the State Executive Council took a contrary resolution after the Council of Traditional Rulers urged the government to deploy the funds into various ongoing infrastructural projects in the state instead of venturing into an airport project which the government might not be able to conclude before its tenure expiration in 2023.

The Abia State Ministry of Works was directed by the Exco to engage the contractor and ensure that the needful was done. The details of how the funds were allocated to relevant ongoing projects have since been published.

Dr. Ikpeazu has refrained from engaging or volunteering any comments against Otti, except to correct the malicious falsehoods Otti is deliberately narrating against him.

Otti has deliberately claimed some projects, such as the first phase of Ariaria A-Line Mall, initiated and executed by the Ikpeazu administration, as his own. There is hardly any time Otti’s government officials and his aides do not needlessly call Ikpeazu out over one puerile issue or the other, and Dr Okezie Ikpeazu reserves the right to express his right of reply to all the falsehood propagated against him.

* Enyinnaya Appolos, former Chief Press Secretary to HE Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, writes from Isiko in Obingwa

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