The Abia State government has issued a clarification statement in response to a report by Sahara Reporters that the Governor, Dr. Alex Otti, spent N927 million on food for the government house in three months.
Nedu Ekeke, the deputy chief of staff to the governor, issued the statement to address the backlash and provide context to the spending figures.
According to the statement, the government clarified that the reported spending was not limited to food expenses but included various aspects such as personnel costs, renovations, and the operation of multiple agencies directly under the government house.
“The costs of running these agencies, including personnel, overhead & capital were charged to Govt House. I am not sure that Ebonyi State bought 20 Toyota Hilux trucks for any special military operation. But Abia did for “Operation Crush”. That cost is part of the report,” the statement said.
The government emphasized the need to consider the peculiarities of each government house, and in the case of Abia State, it inherited a facility with over 700 staff, which was later reduced to over 500.
The statement highlighted the renovations undertaken in government offices, including the political block, protocol building, banquet hall, and official residences like the SSG’s, Chief judge’s, and Chief of Staff’s, which were in poor conditions. The government also mentioned the need for new furniture due to the removal of furniture by the previous administration.
Additionally, the statement explained that several agencies operate directly under the government house, contributing to the overall operational costs.
The clarification also addressed the issue of salaries, highlighting that the immediate past government stopped paying salaries in February, and the new administration under Governor Otti insisted on paying twice every month to clear the backlog from March to May.
Regarding the reported spending on information and propaganda, the government stated that the Ministry of Information is a full-fledged ministry, responsible for managing entities like the Abia Broadcasting Corporation (BCA), Abia Newspaper, and the State Tourism Board. The costs associated with running these entities were included in the reported figures.
The statement emphasized the commitment of the government to improving the lives of the people and the transparency in providing a comprehensive financial statement after auditing a full year.
Read the full statement below:
This image has continued to move from timeline to timeline. But the comparison is not particularly fair. The Alex Otti government has since addressed it on the radio. But it appears many on Twitter did not follow the explanations. I will go ahead and speak to it now.
No two Govt Houses are the same. Each has their peculiarities. What we inherited in Abia was a Govt House with over 700 staff. We reduced them to over 500 (through reposting). But the overhead and personnel costs of the 700+ personnel are part of the figures you’re seeing.
You’ve seen images of really decayed roads all over Abia State, but that decay permeated every structure of the state, including govt offices. We have been able to renovate some offices, e.g. the political block that houses many appointees, the protocol building, and the banquet hall.
The SSG’s official residence, the Chief Judge’s, and the Chief of Staff’s were all in terrible shapes and had to be renovated. In fact, the Chief Judge’s was unlivable. And the renovation is still ongoing. She is putting up in another apartment until hers is completed.
The renovations also came with furniture, as the last administration carted away most of the furniture in their offices when they were leaving. Shortly upon assumption of office, Gov Alex Otti set up a judicial panel of inquiry to recover all stolen Govt assets.
The Commissioners’ Quarters were totally abandoned. It was overgrown with weeds. It was built with govt funds and the Alex Otti administration insisted that commissioners would live there. Govt was not going to give them money to go rent apartments. But it also had to be renovated.
Further, a lot of agencies are directly under the Govt House, instead of ministries. Examples are: a. Fire Service, b. Homeland Security (used to be a full-fledged ministry but now an agency, c. State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), d. Umuahia Capital Development Authority, e. ASOPADEC, f. ASEPA, g. Abia State Orientation Agency (ABSOA), h. Infrastructural Promotion Agency, i. Public Procurement Bureau, j. Marketing & Quality Control Agency, k. Abia State Signage and Advertisement Agency (ABSAA), l. ABSEDA and others.
The costs of running these agencies, including personnel, overhead & capital were charged to Govt House. I am not sure that Ebonyi State bought 20 Toyota Hilux trucks for any special military operation. But Abia did for “Operation Crush”. That cost is part of the report.
The agencies above were what we inherited. Gov. Alex Otti earlier constituted a civil service reform committee to look at these issues and advise govt on how to rationalize them. They are done with the work and will be submitting their report any moment from now.
Worthy of note is that the immediate past govt stopped paying salaries in February. From June, our first month in office, Gov Otti insisted on paying twice every month to clear the March-May backlog. Those payments – some of which were to the Govt House staff – are in this report.
On the one reported as “propaganda”, the Ministry of Information is a full-fledged ministry. In fact, the current Information Ministry used to be 3 ministries under the past administration. Gov Otti merged them. Under the ministry are the Abia Broadcasting Corporation (BCA), Abia Newspaper, and the State Tourism Board. Each has its staff. The cost of running these is in the report you’re seeing. It was not for propaganda. The Alex Otti administration is fortunate to be loved by the people and does not spend money pushing narratives.
Abians themselves, who appreciate the hardworking government, help us tell our story. In summary, what you’re seeing is like a movie trailer. It does not show the entire picture. The entire picture will show after an audited full-year financial statement.
This thread was posted before I saw a sensational tweet by Sahara Reporters, claiming the govt spent N927m on food.
That post is false. Even the document SR published captured meals at N223.3m. But I will urge everyone to await the government’s official response on that.
Thanks to all of you who called/texted to seek clarification. Ours is a govt that is fully committed to making life better for the people. His Excellency Dr. Otti is actually his own critic. He’ll never do anything to shortchange the people who entrusted him with their mandate.