The Abia State government has denied allegations that Governor Alex Otti spent N927 million on food between July and September 2023. Responding to social media comparisons of governance costs between Abia and Benue states, Deputy Chief of Staff Chinedu Ekeke explained that each government house operates uniquely. He emphasized that Governor Otti inherited over 700 staff, and reductions were made through reposting. The overhead and personnel costs of these staff, along with renovations, contribute to the figures circulating on social media.
Ekeke clarified that the government undertook essential renovations, addressing decayed structures, and replacing furniture and equipment removed by the previous administration. Renovations extended to offices such as the political block, protocol building, banquet hall, SSG’s official residence, Chief Judge’s, and Chief of Staff’s offices. Additionally, the Commissioners’ Quarters, abandoned and overgrown, were renovated to accommodate commissioners without additional rental expenses.
Several agencies, once ministries, now directly under the Govt House, including Fire Service, Homeland Security, State Emergency Management Agency, Umuahia Capital Development Authority, ASOPADEC, ASEPA, Abia State Orientation Agency, Infrastructural Promotion Agency, Public Procurement Bureau, Marketing & Quality Control Agency, and Abia State Signage and Advertisement Agency, contributed to the costs.
Governor Otti initiated a civil service reform committee to rationalize these issues, with the report expected soon. Notably, the previous government ceased salary payments in February, and Otti, upon taking office in June, prioritized clearing the March-May backlog, including payments to Govt House staff.
Addressing claims of propaganda, Ekeke clarified that the Ministry of Information, now merged under Otti’s administration, incorporates the Abia Broadcasting Corporation, Abia Newspaper, and the State Tourism Board, each with its staff. The administration is committed to transparency, with the full financial picture to be revealed in the audited yearly statement.
Ekeke also refuted a sensational tweet by Sahara Reporters, stating the government spent N927 million on food, asserting that the actual figure documented was N223.3 million. He urged everyone to await the government’s official response on this matter.