June 18, 2023. Premium Times – Governor Alex Otti of Abia State has accused his predecessor, Okezie Ikpeazu, of leaving a “humongous” debt burden for the state.
The governor was reacting to a statement by Mr Ikpeazu’s media aide, Ikechukwu Iroha, claiming that the administration of the former governor left behind over N24 billion and another $250 million in the state’s treasury.
“As of Friday, 9 June 2023, the (Abia) state received N24 billion through the Nigeria Governors Forum as part of a total N48 billion standing to the state’s credit. The money was earned under the watch of Ikpeazu,” Mr Iroha said.
“Ikpeazu’s administration perfected a $50 million World Bank (Loan) Facility at 0.6 per cent interest rate with a ten years repayment moratorium for construction of more than 500 km roads including Port Harcourt Road, Aba. The African Development Bank Facility of $200 million processed by the Ikpeazu’s administration is also ready for the new administration to access for construction of rural roads,” he added.
But reacting on Thursday during a press conference, Mike Akpara, the special adviser to Mr Otti on finance, refuted the claim, describing it as “fictitious.”
Mr Akpara accused the former governor’s media aide of resorting to fake news to deceive the public, especially workers and pensioners in the state.
He added that records showed that Mr Ikpeazu left a debt of N191 billion as of 28 May for Governor Otti’s administration.
“For the records, the public should note thus: The Okezie Ikpeazu-led government did not leave any N24 billion in the account of the Abia State Government as they falsely claimed.
“The $200 million and $50 million they claimed they left for the new administration are loans they were pursuing which are yet to crystalise,” he said.
‘Running to APC ‘ll not save Ikpeazu’
Mr Akpara said that Mr Ikpeazu’s administration also left “physical liabilities” in various institutions in Abia State, adding that some tertiary institutions lost their accreditations for the first time under the former governor’s watch.
He said the former governor would face a probe even if he defects to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
“If Ikpeazu is trying to preempt anti-corruption agencies by making provocative false claims, he should know that they work with facts and figures; therefore, even if he runs into the APC to seek refuge as he is planning to do, these anti-corruption agencies would pursue and bring him to justice from there,” he stated.
Mr Ikpeazu is a member of the Peoples Democratic Party, under which he governed the state between 2015 and 2023, but lost his senatorial bid to represent Abia South District during the 2023 general election.
Mr Akpara stressed that Mr Ikpeazu’s failure to pay April and May salaries and pensions before leaving office was an indication that there was no money in the state’s treasury.
“Doctors who have been on strike since February 2023 just called off their strike, and they emphatically stated that they based their decision on their conviction that Governor Otti would solve the problem that necessitated the strike action,” he said.