THE Abia State Government has given more clarifications on the state Governor, Alex Otti allegedly spending over N900m on food.
In a Monday virial report, Governor Alex Otti of Abia State, allegedly spent a whopping N927million within three months on refreshment/meals, settlement of honorarium, allowances, welfare packages for the eggheads.
The report titled “Abia State Third Quarter (July – September) 2023 Budget Performance” was posted on the state government’s website. (https://abiastate.gov.ng/abia-state-3rd-quarter-2023-budget-performance-report-2/)
“This Q3 and Year to date performance is assessed against the revised 2023 Budget that covers the Original Budget plus a n Amendment Virement sum of N22,263,269,900 as summarised below,” it read.
“This Budget Performance Report is produced by the Abia State Planning Commission, Budget Department/Office of the Accountant General, Accounts Production Department and published on the Abia State website.”
In the report, the Otti-led government allegedly spent N223,389,889.84 on refreshment/meals, while N305,400,000.00 was spent on honorarium and sitting allowance for government officials within July and September, 2023.
The government also claimed it spent N397,520,734.00 on welfare packages.
Further, according to the document, N737,922,661.25 was spent to buy motor vehicles. The quantity and those the vehicles were bought for were never stated.
Meanwhile, N362,804,050.00 was spent by the Abia government to purchase trucks and another N400,890,000.00 was used for the purchase of buses.
Also in the document, the government claimed N252.4m was used to run the Deputy Governor’s office for 3 months.
The report however showed that only N25 million was spent by the government on repair of public schools in the state.
This is as many of the public primary and secondary schools in Abia State are described as “eyesore.”
According to multiple reports online, most public secondary and primary school buildings and facilities across the 17 local government areas of Abia State were ageing and decaying over government’s failure.
A sizeable number of school buildings in the state were said to be virtually dilapidated with leaking roofs, broken furniture, doors and windows; some completely abandoned, with tons of garbage, human excreta and overgrown shrubs.
Reacting, human rights activist, Aisha Yesufu strongly criticized Governor Alex Otti, condemning the reported lavish spending on refreshments, meals, honorarium, allowances, and welfare packages within a three-month period.
Yesufu emphatically asserted that the conventional approach to governance is unacceptable. She further advocated for a shift to more unconventional practices.
Taking to her social media platform on Monday, Aisha Yesufu expressed her incredulity at the government’s reported expenditure, posting,
“Business as usual can never be the way to go. It must be business unusual. Expenditure must be reduced to the barest minimum. Almost a billion on food and welfare in 3 months? @alexottiofr get organizations like @TrackaNG to help keep you on your toes and monitor your spending and what to cut down on. @Nedunaija this is not good at all.” Aisha Yesufu tweet
But in a Monday clarification report made available to newsmen by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Kazie Uko, he said the report making rounds on social media is fake and does not represent the true situation of things as it should be.
The statement reads;
”Following the publication of the Q3 budget report of the Abia State Government, and in line with the government’s commitment to transparency, good governance and fiscal discipline, it has become necessary to shed more light on the aforementioned report.
This is even more so when there are certain distorted reports on social media, alleging that the Abia State Government had spent close to One Billion Naira on feeding and welfare for the Governor’s Office, within the period under review.
The accurate situation is that nothing in that region has been spent in the Governor’s Office.
The facts are as stated below:
- The total amount spent so far by the entire government of Abia State for Refreshments and Meals for the period is N223,389,889.84.
The figure above is as captured in all the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government.
Please, NOTE that this figure is for the entire state and not for the Office of the Governor, as being erroneously portrayed.
The stated figure covers expenses for special events, such as retreats, conferences, and related events.
For welfare, the Abia State Government has so far spent the sum of N397,520,734.84.
The Welfare expenditure is in line with the State Fiscal, Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability Programme (SFTAS); an initiative of the Federal Government.
Also NOTE that the Welfare Expenditure covers all the Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and not just the Governor’s Office, as wrongly alleged.
Expenses under Welfare deal with issues of Health, Rehabilitation and Public Emergencies.
”The Abia State Government, under the leadership of Dr. Alex C. Otti, OFR, will continue to uphold transparency in governance, as has been demonstrated in the publication of the budget performance report for two consecutive quarters.” The statement added.