Listen to article
Governor Alex Otti of Abia State has shared the rationale behind his ongoing practice of working from his private residence, a decision made evident six months into his tenure.
Addressing an online publication that suggested he abandoned the multi-million Naira Abia New Government House, Governor Alex Otti emphasized his preference for operating from his private residence as a cost-saving measure, opting not to expend public funds on renovating the Governor’s lodge.
Otti labeled the publication as mischievous and misleading, urging the public to disregard the report.
Otti clarified that he opted to forego personal comfort to address the state’s urgent needs, aiming for positive impacts on the masses.
Otti, as communicated by his Chief Press Secretary, Kazie Uko, voiced dissatisfaction with the current state of both the Old and New Government Houses, citing the urgent need for substantial funds to address their condition.
Otti regretfully noted that the New Governor’s lodge, commissioned by the immediate-past Governor Okezie Ikpeazu on the eve of his handover day, remains unfinished.
Journalists, taken on a tour of the facility at Ogurube Layout, observed that only the ground floor of the two-story building was furnished and equipped with a few air-conditioner units.
The upper floors were devoid of any furnishings and lacked electrical installations, including fans and other fittings.
It was observed that the lifts for the building are yet to be installed, and the electrical work is still pending completion.
A collapsed section of the fence, dividing the Governor’s lodge and the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs complex, was noticed during the tour.
Some workers were seen rebuilding the collapsed wall.
Addressing newsmen at the site, the Governor’s CPS expressed disappointment that the building was hurriedly commissioned by the past administration without completion.
‘This is the multi-billion Abia New Government House they said Gov. Otti abandoned. You have seen the inside. It’s like a carpentry workshop and a showroom.’
‘You see how part of the parapet is beginning to peel off. Part of the fence has already collapsed and you saw workers rebuilding it.’
‘Why on earth will any sincere person commission that project when it’s obvious it’s far from being completed? Some PDP Governors were imported into Abia to commission that project by the last administration on the eve of its exit but it’s now clear it was all politics.’
He said that Gov. Otti when he came on board, had desired to operate from Government House but after his tour of facilities at both the Old and New lodges discovered they were not in good shape.
According to him, the Governor decided to operate from his private building to save cost as the quotations from contractors to fix the lodge was astronomical.
‘When he came on board, Gov. Otti wanted to operate from Government House. He visited the facilities but his findings were at variance with the impression in public that his predecessor had built a New Government House. The simple question is this: If truly the place is habitable, why didn’t the former Governor who commissioned it live in it?’
‘He spent most of his tenure at Governor’s lodge Aba, and only moved into his private house at Umuobiakwa after building it. Then at the eve of his handover he came and hurriedly commissioned this building that looks like a huge carpentry workshop with cables dangling everywhere but without power supply.’
‘You saw the heaps of dusts and rubbles everywhere, a clear indication that he did not prepare any place for his successor’.
Asked if six months were not enough for the Governor to rebuild the Government House to his taste and operate from it, Uko said Otti did not consider fixing his official lodge a priority amidst various emergencies in the state.
‘Some contractors were bringing quotations that ran into hundreds of millions, and some close to N1 billion just to renovate the Government House. And the Governor said it was not a priority when Abia pensioners were being owed, civil servants not paid and our hospitals in ruins.’
‘He decided to channel the funds to fix these emergencies first. He is sacrificing his own personal comfort to serve the state and instead of people appreciating him, the opposition is busy sponsoring misleading media reports to blackmail an innocent man.’
‘Today Abia workers are paid on the 28th of every month; the operation zero pothole has commenced in Aba and Umuahia; our hospitals are being renovated and retrofitted; massive infrastructural development has commenced. These are what matters to the Governor and not living in or operating from Government House that is not habitable. When funds improve he will definitely fix it and move in but for now, it’s not a priority!’
A trip to the Old Government House revealed the absence of furniture in the Governor’s office, with items such as his desk, television set, and other security installations all removed.
‘As you can see, here is supposed to be the Governor’s office. But can you see any single furniture here? Where is the Governor’s desk? Is this a place you want the Governor to stay? Or should he sink the funds for developing the state into renovating his office first? The Governor does not deserve this distraction’.
The New Government House building, originally initiated by former Governor Theodore Orji prior to his exit in 2015, was officially commissioned by ex-Governor Ikpeazu in May 2023.