Government says its attention has been drawn to a press release by the two time defeated APGA governorship candidate in the State, Mr Alex Otti, who has since abandoned the party that made him to join APC, on the management of Paris Club Refund to the state wherein he tried very hard but vainly to drag the Governor Okezie Ikpeazu-led administration into what he clearly knows nothing about.
According to the release, Mr Otti who copiously cited the yet to be verified allegations of his former colleague at First Bank and fellow APC Chieftain, Mr Obinna Oriaku, who served as commissioner for finance in the state, against a previous administration in the state failed the test of altruism by deliberately refusing to mention throughout his long and rancorous epistle that the same individual exonerated Governor Ikpeazu and his administration from any wrongdoing in the management of the Refunds.
The release noted that in both the written and broadcast interviews of Mr Oriaku, he clearly affirmed that Governor Ikpeazu managed the N22bn Paris Club Refund judiciously and received well deserved accolades from the Nigerian Governors Forum and the ICPC which reviewed the application of the funds.
According to the release Mr Oriaku also stated that while the greater chunk of the funds were applied to settlement of some arrears of pensions and salaries, it was still not enough to settle all the arrears, some of which date back to the military era and other administrations before the emergence of Governor Ikpeazu.
It explained that responding to a journalist in Umuahia, APC Chieftain, Obinna Oriaku, who supervised the disbursement of the Paris Club Refund said: “those funds were judiciously used remembering that when the funds came,Abia was about the only state that decided to use huge sum of that money for salaries adding that Most other states were using them for other things including contractor payment, overhead payments among others.
It disclosed that while in the second tranche of N5.7 billion that came,not even one naira was not taken out, adding that he remembered that the Governor using it to talk to the state NUT said how else will the state demonstrate its commitment towards their welfare if they can commit an entire N5.7 billion for their welfare, and which was true and which No other state did.
The release stated that the not so subtle attempt by Otti to present his intervention in a manner that misleads the reading public into believing that the Governor Ikpeazu administration was involved in mismanagement of the refunds is typical of him as once acknowledged even by the Presidency that was at a time also forced to respond to him on his misrepresentation of facts involving the Debt Management Office.
According to the release,the statement credited to Oriaku to the effect that Governor Ikpeazu warned him and other government officials when the funds were received to ensure that nobody stole any part of it, describing the money as rat poison that whoever touched would go in for it, couldn’t make the propaganda cut for Mr Otti, hence, his preference for indecorous manipulation of words to cast aspersions on his serial political vanquisher, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, who has confined him to the boys quarters of Abia politics for good.
It stated that In case anyone is still in doubt as regards facts of the matter, Government wished to restate that upon receipt of the refunds, Governor Ikpeazu inaugurated a committee made up of leaders of organized Labour: NLC, TUC, NULGE, NUP, NUT and Joint Negotiating Council, in the state to determine how to appropriately apply the Fund to settle arrears of salaries and pension as well as fund key infrastructure projects.
The release disclosed that the state House of Assembly duly appropriated the funds in line with the recommendations of the committee and disbursements were done under the watch of Otti’s former colleague in first bank and now APC Chieftain, Obinna Oriaku.
It explained that already available in the public domain, Government received three tranches of Paris Club Refund of N10.6bn N5.7bn and N5.7bn and according to Mr Oriaku,the Paris Refund came in three trenches of N10.6bn, N5.7bn and N5.7bn explaining that all these funds except N1.7bn were used exclusively for payments of arrears owed Abia workers partly before the Governor Ikpeazu-led administration.
The release said that it is laughable that Mr Otti believed that the state government should now re-investigate matters before the EFCC or courts even after his primary source, Oriaku, stated publicly that the administration did not endorse any contract with the named aggrieved consultant and that, indeed, the Governor refused to pay any 30% or 20% of it to anyone.
According to the release the government has showed confidence in anti-corruption agencies of the federal government and maintained transparency in management of public resources.
It said that the administration of Governor Ikpeazu has maintained its policy of insisting that every government official in Abia invited by EFCC and any other anti-graft agencies must go and defend their record of service as the administration has zero tolerance for corruption adding that they believe that those agencies have the requisite resources to investigate graft while they focus on substantive governance that has been delivering dividends of democracy to the people.
It emphasised that they will not allow politicians with the unenviable record of perennial failure and destruction of every institution they have headed and or managed to distract them with their ill- advised political voyages.
The release revealed that as stated by Oriaku and acknowledged by Otti, Governor Ikpeazu refused to pay the consultants in question as demanded by them leading to the civil suit in an Abuja High Court and the report to EFCC asking that what exactly does Otti understand by the process of termination of contracts?
It furthermore, asked that if according to Otti ,Abia Governement officials are appearing in Abuja High Court and the EFCC to defend the position of the government and provide relevant documents, what exactly does he mean by “state government should take interest in the matter”adding that how else should a Governor demonstrate his position on a matter of this nature highlighted by Otti and Oriaku than clearly and unambiguously refusing to pay what he believes is not right.
The release said that Whatever role played by anybody in the recovery of Paris Club Refunds to the state must have been stated in whatever contract document Otti and Oriaku made reference to, which the current administration refused to pay emphasising that It is not the administration,s duty to re-litigate a matter that is before the courts and the EFCC.
According to the release as can be expected from any responsible administration, the state government is awaiting the outcome of EFCC investigation and the civil suit in Abuja to determine their next course of action ,emphasising that government will always act in the best interest of Abia people as the instant case has further demonstrated so far.
It Stated their understanding of the symptoms of ignorance in industrial scale in an individual which can lead them into political voyages of perdition as is the case with Mr Alex Otti