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Chief John Okiyi Kalu who is the former Commissioner for Trade and Investment in Abia State, has queried the award of the contract for the reconstruction of Port Harcourt Road, Aba by Governor Alex Otti, at the rate of over ₦30 billion.
He said he was shocked when his attention was drawn to a statement released by Governor Otti, through his spokesman, wherein he attacked him for revealing to the public that his using ₦30 billion to complete the Port Harcourt Road, Aba project is suspicious.
The former commissioner said the Okezie Ikpeazu administration which he served under, awarded the same road in 2017 for ₦9 billion with 40 percent of the work already done, including the establishment of drainages end to end, along with proper channels for storm water.
He said while he is unfazed by the tissue of lies and inaccuracies contained in the statement from Otti, it is instructive to note that during a radio programme he monitored in Umuahia, Otti confirmed that he is actually using N30 billion to do the job and that there was neither a budgetary provision nor due process competitive bidding for the work.
‘Furthermore, if Otti believes that property owners along Port Harcourt Road, Aba should be given compensation, he has my personal support to do so now because the government is a continuum and he is about to work on the same road as started by the former administration.
‘Let me remind Alex Otti for the purposes of his records that as of May 9, 2017, the Port Harcourt Rd, Aba project was commenced, I was not a commissioner then and could not have harassed, nor been in any position to harass anyone on that road because of the project as he told ‘Abians’ on radio through his spokesman. I only became a commissioner in Abia State on October 17, 2017.
‘I also find no real issue with associating me with the successes and shortcomings of the Ikpeazu administration because as expected of any government, we met many challenges, and solved many but couldn’t solve all the problems of Abia before we left office after eight years. By the time Otti leaves office, too, he will also not have been able to solve all the state’s problems.’
Okiyi-Kalu said his position remains that he promised the people of Abia State transparency in governance, and he will continue to hold Otti accountable regardless of any threat to him or his family members.
‘In his inaugural address to the people of the state, Otti had said: ‘The time for the rebuilding process has begun. Transparency, accountability and public trust shall be at the centre of everything we do.
‘Based on the above statement, one then wonders why Otti is angry that a citizen is holding him to his words.
‘For the avoidance of doubt, the federal government does not currently publish monthly FAAC and IGR receipts by individual states. What they publish is the total amount of FAAC receipts available for sharing among federal, state and local governments.
‘If Otti has a web address where we can get monthly FAAC and IGR receipts for Abia State, he should share it, please. If his problem is that I asked for transparent sharing of relevant information with citizens, as he promised, then he will continue to have issues with me.’
He said Governor Otti would never be able to intimidate opposition voices in Abia State, especially himself, stressing that the governor wanted to do so that he could run the finances of the state as his personal funds.