Abia: Ikpeazu govt desperate to siphon LG funds through Transition committee chairmen – Otti claims
The governorship candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), in the last election, Dr. Alex Otti, has taken a swipe at the Governor Okezie Ikpeazu-led Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) government over its purported appointment of the Transition Committee Chairmen for the seventeen local government areas of Abia State.
Otti, in a statement made available to newsmen in Umuahia, the state capital, on Tuesday, by his Media Aide, Ferdinand Ekeoma, expressed disappointment over the action of the state government, claiming that the recent development was another conduit pipe of the Ikpeazu-led administration to siphon public funds.
The APGA chieftain, pointed out that the scenario, amounted to leadership insensitivity for the ruling PDP government in the state, to insist on toeing same undemocratic path that had continued to harm the general well-being of the people, especially at the grassroots level.
Otti, however, called on the federal government and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to expedite action and ensure that LGA election hold in Abia urgently in the interest of the suffering citizens.
Recall that Governor Okezie Ikpeazu-led, had approved the appointment of Transition Committee chairmen for the 17 local government areas of Abia State.
This was made known last week in a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Onyebuchi Enemanka, and obtained by newsmen in Umuahia, the Abia state capital.
Parts of the statement read, “The Alex Otti team received with disappointment, the news of the appointment of 17 LGA Transition Committee Chairmen and their Deputies by the executive governor of Abia state, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu.
“We are disappointed because we are very much aware that the Federal Government, in a bid to halt the siphoning of LGA allocations by governors who hitherto exploited the loophole provided by the State-Local Government Joint Account, took measures aimed at ensuring that allocations for LGAs go straight to their accounts, with a threat to punish those who fail to utilize such funds prudently for the development of their councils.
“The Federal Government also made it clear that it would not tolerate the appointment of TC Chairmen to manage the affairs of various LGAs as that would give state governors the opportunity to manipulate the LGAs, and possibly mismanage the LGA funds.
“In the light of the aforementioned developments, we are taken aback by Governor Okezie Ikpeazu’s decision to resort to this retrogressive political action, and thus state the following:
“That having had LGA Chairmen, both elected and appointed whose allocations were controlled by the Ikpeazu led government, and whose scorecards were extremely disastrous due to mismanagement of the LGA funds, it would amount to leadership insensitivity for the Okezie Ikpeazu led government to insist on toeing same undemocratic path that harms the general well-being of the people, especially at the grassroots.
“That Abia has one of the worst records in workers and pensioners’ welfare in the federation, with some workers in state government owned institutions and pensioners being owed up to 10 months salary arrears and up to 22 months pension arrears, thus we did not expect that this government would resort to taking actions that would aggravate the sorry state of things in the state, especially in the rural areas.
“That the alarming unemployment rate and general underdevelopment of the local governments have propelled Rural-Urban migration to an alarming level, and subsequently increased rapidly, the level of insecurity, like armed robbery and kidnapping in the state to a frightening dimension, hence the need for the government to refrain from all actions that are capable of worsening the situation.
“That if the Ikpeazu led government truly upholds both the principle of separation of powers and transparency as it repeatedly claims, it should concentrate on areas within its jurisdiction, and allow the third tier of government (LGAs) to freely and effectively utilize their resources in working for the people at the grassroots, while the State and LGA legislatures scrutinize and checkmate their activities.
“That there are already reports from reliable sources of alleged plot by the government to illegally collaborate with the TC Chairmen and raise their security votes to the tune of 20Million, with the alleged intent of collecting same back from the Chairmen through the back door for purposes of diversion. This plot bears same government’s notorious trademark of financial malfeasance that has crippled the LGA system nay Abia state as a whole.
“We humbly request Abia lawmakers both at the National and State Assembly to lend their voices and demand that LGA election be held immediately in Abia as that is one of the ways to prove that they are concerned representatives of the people”.
Meanwhile, as at the time of this report, efforts made by ND REPORTERS to reach the governor’s new spokesman, Onyebuchi Ememanka, for his comment were unfruitful.