As we clap for Governor Otti (Part 2)

In four months of his administration, on September 30, 2023, Governor Alex Otti increased the Abia State domestic debt profile to N138.7 billion from N99.5 billion on April 01, 2023.

The figure represents an additional N39.2 billion and a 33.16 per cent increase in just four months of Governor Otti’s government. Governor Otti borrowed the money despite receiving N162 billion in revenues. (see breakdown in the part one of this article).

But because of our disenchantment with the past PDP government, we prioritized the hailing of conventional zero pothole undertaking, flag-offs, and ongoing expansions without considering the consequences of the criminal inflated contract prices and profligacy to our collective prospects and aspirations.

No matter its importance, it is criminal to award a 5.9-km Port Harcourt Road Aba – that was 40 per cent completed – to Julius Berger for N30 billion.

The expansion (addition of six feet on both sides) of 3-KM Ossah Road at N8.1 billion is stealing. It places Otti’s government on top of the corruption index of Abia State and the Southeast.

The same applied to the slightly renovated and repainted Commissioners’ Quarters, Diagnostic Centre, and Amachara Specialist Hospital, Umuahia, for N665 million (N35 million for each duplex) and N1.5 billion, respectively.

These are commendable undertakings. But they do not represent novelty or justify the outlandish media noise. Besides, the amounts are prohibitive and inexplicable in the New Abia project.

Compared to Okezie Ikpeazu’s era, FAAC and JAAC Allocations have increased from averages of N3 billion and N2 billion monthly to N8 billion and N5 billion. Yet, the arrears of Abia Poly, ABSU, ABSUTH, and Pensioners – our prime challenges – still linger.

The ABSU lecturers went on strike because of the 11 months outstanding Governor Otti incidentally campaigned with during the electioneering.

With the average monthly FAAC and JAAC Allocations of N5.5 billion, the past administration paid ABSU a monthly subvention of N100 million (though occasionally). It paid N430 million monthly as subventions to all tertiary schools, boards, and parastatals (though irregularly).

However, with the tripled monthly FAAC and JAAC to N13 billion, Otti’s government still could not increase ABSU monthly subvention. It still struggles to pay ABSU N100 million or the N430 million subventions to tertiary schools, boards, and parastatals.

If the excess FAAC/JAAC monthly Allocations of N13 billion cannot improve welfare, Ministries, Boards, and Parastatals and revolutionize road construction across the state, Otti would be adjudged a failure.

During General Gowon’s military regime, Nigeria made so much money in crude oil sales that Gowon infamously declared that we had excess cash and did not know what to do with it.

In 1990, during the Gulf War also, the IBB military government amassed a colossal $12 billion. Like his predecessor, Gowon, he wasted the money on boondoggles. The rest ended up in private pockets.

Yesterday’s omnishambles and appropriations culminated in the nondescript Nigeria of today, where everything, including our future, is gloomy and hugger-mugger.

We would have averted today’s crisis with judicious utilization of the free monies Nigeria made in the past.

With the profligacy and inflated prices of contracts under Otti, Abia is heading in that direction.

To be continued…

Read Part 1 here.

Don Norman Obinna is the Abia State Chairman of the African Democratic Congress (ADC). He’s also the publisher of ‘Raped and Enslaved: Era of Kleptocracy’ which is available as an ebook. Click the link below to read a copy.

Don Norman Obinna

Don Norman is the acclaimed author of 'Raped & Enslaved: Era of Kleptocracy'.

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