Abia assures transparent accountable government, as House of Reps Committee thumbs up Gov Otti

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Abia State Governor, Dr. Alex Otti, says his administration is committed to running a transparent and accountable government to deliver the greater good for overall development of the state.

Governor Otti said as a responsive and responsible government he is expected to be accountable, and that is what his administration stands for.

The Governor spoke on Thursday when members of the House of Representatives Committee on Public Accounts, led by the committee Chairman, Mr. Bamidele Salam, and accompanied by the member representing Isialangwa North and South Federal Constituency, Hon. Ginger Onwusibe, visited him as part of their oversight function to states in the South East zone.

He maintained that to achieve his goal of a new Abia he must be responsible and assured that he will always do what is right as to justify the confidence reposed in him by the people of Abia.

Governor Otti described accountability as an important facet of Governance, adding that it was the spirit of accountability that led him to set up of a forensic audit, which disclosed massive looting of the State by the past administration.

“It is on that bases that I want to make reference to a topical issue at this time. When we came in slightly less than a year ago, we thought that in the spirit of accountability, we should set up a forensic audit on the activities of our predecessor. We thought we should call KPMG or any of those big three or four, so we eventually settled for KPMG.

“We are not interested in witch hunting; we just needed to know where we were and how our resources in the last few years were used. At least, we can hold ourselves and our predecessors to account. Our predecessor should hold its predecessor to acount that’s just the way it goes,” Governor Otti explained.

According to the Governor, “When the audit result came out, many public revelations were made and we are still struggling with some of them. One of them was that a lot of money moved out of the (State’s) Federation Account domiciled in one of the banks on a day, the 25th of September, 2020, during the Covid-19 lockdown.

“It was dedicated to the construction of an airport in Abia. That was 10 billion Naira. We tried to look for the airport, but we couldn’t find it.

“Clearly there is no airport because we have gone round the State. So, the money has to come back. That is accountability. There is no responsibility without accountability. By the time I hand over to my successor, I expect him as a matter of importance to also set up a forensic audit on my administration and then come up with a report, that is accountability.”

In his remarks earlier, Hon. Salam explained that they were not in the state for a witch hunt exercise but to carry out its role of tracking public expenditure to ensure that public funds are used for the public in manner that conforms with all the rules of transparency and accountability.

The House Committee Chairman said that the Governor had over the years supported public accounts and transparency in governance, and congratulated Governor Otti for not disappointing those who had reposed confidence in his leadership qualities.

He noted that Governor Otti had made Abia to be in the news for positive things and described him as a leader who has redefined governance and has also brought innovation to bear in governance.

“The first thing I want to congratulate and thank you for is that you have not disappointed God. That God, who created Abia State that has a population of a little over four million people is the same God who created the State of Alabama and Kentucky in the United States with about four million population. The GDP of this State is about 0.8 billion USD, Kentucky has about 278 billion USD as GDP; same population, same State of a federation.

“And so, the fact that you have been Governor for almost 12 months now has given us a yardstick to ask whether indeed you were actually prepared for the office. And Your Excellency, without mincing words, everything you have done since you assumed this office has shown that you actually prepared to govern Abia State in a manner that will make the State to fulfill its God’s given purpose.

“The second one, I want to thank you for is that, next to not disappointing God, is not disappointing man. If you aspired to be Governor on two occasions and it didn’t happen and it happened the third time, and God forbid you became the Governor and you are not able to show any remarkable difference between yourself and those who went before you, a whole lot of people will lose interest in politics and governance.

“I was in a programme recently in Lagos, organised by Linus Okoye. It was a leadership roundtable and we were just about 30 people and one of the introductory parts of that programme was for each person to say something about a place they have been to. Almost half of the 30 people in the room mentioned Abia State, and each person was giving credit to you for the change of narration, the change of focus, the change of attention.

“So, your Excellency, with the little God has enabled you to do in the last one year, in terms of infrastructure, in terms of innovation, in terms of trying to drive the process of growth in GDP of the State; for the information of everyone of course we all know this, when we talk about Nigeria, you are looking at the manufacturing sector and the capacity of Nigeria to be the Taiwan of Africa, like President Bola Tinubu said, it is here in Abia State and is here in Aba.

“So, I want to congratulate and thank you for not allowing people to say oh, you see politicians, after all these years of preparation then what is he doing? That is not on the lips of anyone. And, I am not surprised; one of the good things you have also done is to assemble a very solid team,” Hon. Salam recounted.

 

Picture: Governor Otti and the Chairman, House Committee on Public Accounts, Hon. Bamidele Salam.

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