…Accuses opposition of smear campaign
Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
Abia State Government has roundly denied that a whopping N927 million was spent by the Office of the Governor on refreshments and meals.
The Government in a press conference by the Commissioner for Information, Prince Okey Kanu; and Commissioner for Budget and Planning, Mr Kingsley Anosike, accused the opposition of sponsoring a smear campaign to discredit the Governor.
The Commissioners explained that contrary to “lies and concocted figures” by the opposition, the Governor’s Office never spent N927 million on meals and refreshments.
They expressed shock over how the opposition mischievously distorted the figures published by the State Government on the third quarter expenditure to cause confusion and disaffection.
According to the Commissioner for Budget and Planning, what was spent by the entire Ministries and Departments in the state on refreshments and meals for the period under review was N223,389,889.84, only.
He explained that contrary to claims by the opposition, the figure was not spent by the office of the Governor alone but the entire State Government in three months.
The Commissioner further explained that the figure also covered expenses on special events including retreats and conferences.
Anosike also refuted reports that Otti spent about N700 million on welfare during the period under review.
He rather explained that only N397,520,734.84 was spent on welfare, adding 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,” he added.
Anosike said Gov. Otti-led administration had been judicious in financial management, and would never be part of any wastage.
He also said the Welfare expenditure was in line with the “State Fiscal, Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability Programme (SFTAS); an initiative of the Federal Government.”
The Commissioner urged Abians to disregard the opposition who were looking for opportunities to discredit the State Government.
Corroborating this, Commissioner for Information, Prince Kanu, also described as “total falsehood,” claims that the State Q3 Budget Expenses published on the state’s website had been pulled down.
He said that contrary to such speculation, “the publication is still very much live on the site.”
According to him, Otti’s administration has been transparent and open in running the affairs of the state, hence, it has no reason to pull down the publication.
The Commissioner urged members of the public to discountenance the propaganda by the opposition aimed at distracting the Governor.
Adding his voice, Governor’s CPS, Mr Kazie Uko, accused “sore election losers still in shock of how much the Governor has achieved with so little,” of distorting “very clear information in the Q3 Budget Expenses to mislead the public.”
Uko said that no amount of mischief by those who stagnated Abia State for decades would distract the Governor from delivering his mandate.
He said that Otti would continue to be accountable and diligent in governance.
“The Abia State Government, under the leadership of Dr Alex Otti, will continue to uphold transparency in governance as has been demonstrated in the publication of the budget performance report for two consecutive quarters,” he added.
Similarly, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Media & Publicity, Mr Ferdinand Ekeoma; said that massive infrastructural development by the Governor within the few months he had been in power, had dwarfed all that the opposition achieved in over 24 years.
He said that those trying to twist the content of the Q3 Budget Expenses publication, were only displaying their shock over the Governor’s impressive performance.
Special Adviser on Monitoring and Evaluation, Mr Ugochukwu Okorafor; and the Special Assistant on Public Communication, Mr Dodo Okafor, were also at the press conference.
They said that the opposition was only desperate for relevance, and decided to resort to cheap blackmail.