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Amidst the raging controversy over the spending and security votes collected by Governor Alex Otti of Abia State in his five-month administration, the state government has clarified that nothing like ₦927,000,000 was spent by the governor or the government since the governor assumed the leadership of the state on the 29th of May, 2023.
The Eastern Updates recalls that the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had accused the governor of over spending, stating that Otti alone collected nearly N1 billion as security votes from May to October 2023.
The party’s stance followed a publication of the Q3 budget report of the Abia State government.
Addressing journalists in Umuahia on Tuesday, the state Commissioner for Budget and Planning, Mr. Kingsley Anosike, said government expenditure for the period under reference did not go near that amount, adding that the opposition misunderstood the report and interpreted it its own way.
‘The accurate situation is that nothing in that region has been spent in the governor’s office. The facts are that total amount spent so far by the entire government for refreshment and meals for the period is ₦223,389,889.84.
‘The figure above as captured in all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government; this is the figure for the entire state and not for the office of the governor as being erroneously portrayed.’
The 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 ₦397,520,734.84; the welfare expenditure is in line with the State Fiscal, Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability Programme (SFTAS), an initiative of the Federal Government’, he disclosed.
The Commissioner for Budget and Planning, who was flanked by the Commissioner for Information and Culture, Prince Okey Kanu; Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Publicity, Mr. Ferdinand Ekeoma; Special Adviser on Monitoring and Evaluation, Mazi Ugochukwu Okoroafor; Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Kazie Uko, and Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Public Communications, Mr. Dodoh Okafor, contended that if one adds all the expenditures spent so far by the government, it will not amount to the quoted N927,000,000 figure being bandied by the opposition.
Answering a question, Ekeoma and Okoroafor described the PDP’s allegation of financial recklessness by the Alex Otti’s administration as “a reflection of the mindset of the opposition to create mischief”.
Meanwhile, the Budget and Planning Commissioner has announced the readiness of the Otti’s administration to continue to “uphold the virtues transparency in governance as has been demonstrated in the publication of the budget performance report for two consecutive quarters”.
According to him, item such as welfare of the people will continue to be in the top priority list of the government.