MISSING ABIA AIRPORT: WE ARE MORE INTERESTED IN RECOVERING OUR MONEY, THAN FIGHTING A MAN THAT’S ALREADY DOWN

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The only thing worse than a liar is a liar that’s also a hypocrite!” – Tennessee Williams.

For the records, the Alex Otti government took a firm decision on assumption of office not to allow the discussion of former government of Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu or those of his predecessors occupy the front burner in his administration so that they wouldn’t constitute a distraction, given the enormity of the task ahead .

However, like Philosopher George Santayana said “those who don’t know their history, are doomed to repeat it”. It would be an impossibility to completely clear the mess arising from the misdeeds of the past without understanding the foundation of the problem and making the necessary corrections that could help chart a new progressive direction.

In responding to the revelation made by the Governor of Abia state, Dr. Alex Otti over the funds allegedly diverted by the Ikpeazu government for the nonexistent Airport project, and other funds paid to contractors for nonexistent jobs as revealed by a forensic audit, Governor Ikpeazu swiftly resorted to the same primitive siege strategy using his former Commissioner for Information, John Okiyi Kalu and his spokesman, Onyebuchi Ememanka who have been calling Governor Otti unprintable names, including a “Liar”.

Like Aminatta Forna said “All liars … lie to protect themselves, to shield their egos from the raw pain of truth.” We didn’t expect Ikpeazu and his confused and crying cronnies to own up to the horrendous heist committed against the people of Abia State, hence we were not shocked by the sadistic onslaught being fired by them from different directions. However, the question is: can these aggressive vituperations erase the strongly established facts of their financial malfeasance? Before we answer this question, let’s briefly look at a few Ikpeazu’s trajectory of Lies and Inconsistency in utterances and actions, as this would help us establish who the true liar is.

On October 1, 2015, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu had this to say, “We have received the bailout fund and it has been channelled to clear the salary arrears. I have said it that we are going to dedicate it to what it is meant for, and we have opened up the system by setting up a committee to manage the fund and ensure it is used for the purpose.

“People should stop lobbying for the bailout fund to be diverted for something else. It will not happen under my watch. I wish to reiterate my charge to the members of the Bailout Committee to ensure that by Friday, October 30, 2015, all outstanding salaries and pensions in Abia State have been defrayed.

“I wish to state that contrary to the fears expressed in some quarters, the setting up of the committee to manage the disbursement of the funds does not have any ulterior motive. The work of the committee is not costing us any money. It is made up of those who are already in the system and they are working for their state.”

From these statements above, it was clear that Ikpeazu knew that the public, including civil servants and pensioners didn’t trust his words of assurances, and as expected, he fooled the people, as he never kept to his promise. The question is; what happened to our N14.15 billion bailout fund? Ikpeazu is yet to provide an answer to this question.

Ikpeazu continued to owe workers and pensioners despite receiving allocations and borrowing heavily from finacial institutions.

After receiving the first tranche of the Paris Club refund of N22 Billion, Ikpeazu had this to say at a grand civic reception by the Ohanze Isiahia community in Obingwa Local Government Area in January 2017.

“I am here to let you know that, no kobo from the funds will be unaccounted for, and in line with this commitment, to make good my promise I want to announce to you that this government will begin the payment of Abia State staff salaries through individual cheques to ensure that ghost workers are checked.

“I assure you that the 50% of the Paris Club refund must be used to pay salaries in line with the instruction of the Federal government”.

Neither salaries nor pensions were paid. Till today, Ikpeazu is yet to account for what he did with the Paris Club refund, as he left humongous liabilities, including Seven months salary arrears to Doctors and other staff of Abia State University Teaching Hospital (ABSUTH) Aba, before Governor Otti took over. The Doctors only called off their four months strike action after Governor Otti intervened shortly before his inauguration. If Ikpeazu could be owing staff of such a sensitive institution 7 months salary arrears, one could imagine what happened to other institutions. Of course, some were owed up to 30 months.

Just a few days ago, Ikpeazu’s former Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Obinna Oriaku, in one of his articles on the issue of pensions, wrote thus:

“I must admit that we owed pensions arrears of about 10 months before the 2019 election, However, under my watch we never paid half pension . We still seek to know why with enhanced allocation as witnessed from August 2019, the state resorted to paying half pension”

The question is: if Ikpeazu who borrowed billions from a Commercial bank, collected N14.15 billion bailout fund, and N22 billion Paris Club Refund, Ecological Fund, and Internally generated revenue could be owing 10 months pension arrears as early as 2019, does it not imply that these funds were looted and that Ikpeazu and his abusive and rabble rousing aides are the real liars?

Ikpeazu and his Spokespersons looked so pathetic as they struggled to define the “Little man” , so let me help them define it properly. The “Little man” is the “Little mind” former Governor who appeared on a national television and boasted that his government used to give every Abia pregnant woman the sum of N500 (Five Hundred Naira) on delivery, to the shock and disbelief of his interviewer, Maupe Ogun- Yusuf of Channels Television. The “Little man” is the “Little mind” former Governor who appeared on national television to boast that the foreign investment he attracted to Abia State included “Chicken Republic and Domino’s Pizza”.

Just a few months ago, the PDP state secretariat in Umuahia was sealed by Abia State government on the order of the Abia State Judicial Panel of Inquiry, following a petition brought by a Senior Citizen. Investigation revealed that the man who was bullied and intimidated to sell his property to the PDP against his will, was paid directly via transfer from Ministry of Lands account. The man was also defrauded.

Spokespersons of Ikpeazu and the PDP ran to different radio stations, lying to the public and abusing the Governor, accusing him of witchhunting them, but immediately we appeared on the same platforms and put the records straight with facts, they ran away and have not raised the issue again, rather they nicodemously went and paid for another office elsewhere, ignorantly thinking that the case has come to an end. No sir, all you lovers of ignominy and impunity must be prosecuted for defrauding the state on an industrial scale.

For those questioning the revelation made by Governor Otti in the US, be ready to put your money where your mouth is, by coming to indemnify the accused when they will be arraigned by anti corruption agencies. Akotaghi ya na onu!

Abia State belongs to everyone, including Abia youths whose future were looted by politicians, therefore, we have every right to ask questions on their behalf, and bring those who viciously dimmed their light to justice, and recover their stolen opportunities, therefore, those who have chosen to sing songs of Lamentations should know that these are early days.

For those defending the ruinous era out of malice; for selfish reasons or out of ignorance, “Suzy Kassem enjoined you thus “Never follow a follower who is following someone who has fallen. It’s why the whole world is falling apart.”.

Ferdinand Ekeoma
Special Adviser to the Governor
Media and Publicity
April 22nd,2024