A chieftain of the All Progressives Grand Alliance in Abia State, Dr. Alex Otti, has expressed concern about the $200m African Development Bank loan approved by the National Assembly for Abia State.
Otti, a former Group Managing Director of Diamond Bank Plc, expressed the fear that the foreign loan would plunge Abia State into a long-term financial and economic chaos.
This, according to him, was because the state Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, had no clear repayment plan for the foreign loan which, he noted, has a 20-year tenure with seven years moratorium.
Otti, who was the governorship candidate of APGA in Abia State in 2015, said this while addressing journalists in Lagos on Wednesday.
He urged the National Assembly to rescind its decision on the approved foreign loan, alleging that Ikpeazu had mismanaged the resources of the state and was running the state aground.
Otti said with N14.150bn bailout, and two tranches of Paris Club loan refund in the sums of N5.3bn and N5.7bn that had come into the coffers of the state, there was no justification for civil servants in the state to be owed eight months’ salaries.
He said, “While many Abians were still mourning and yet to recover from the numerous deceits of the present Abia State Government, we got the sad news of the approval of the sum of $200m for Abia State by the National Assembly.”
He challenged the Ikpeazu administration to explain to the people of Abia “where the billions of naira given to it so far for the development of the state have gone to.”
Reacting, Ikpeazu said Otti was being economical with the truth, adding that Abia State under his watch “is open for any probe by any constituted authority.”
Ikpeazu in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Enyinnaya Appolos, said Otti should feel free to visit any anti-graft institution with any graft information he had against him.
The statement read in part, “…At no point did the Governor Ikpeazu administration publicly claim that it needs only N6bn to clear salary, pensions and gratified outstanding in the state. Rather it is a matter of public record which can be verified from the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Debt Management Office of the Presidency that the documents submitted by the Abia State Government in lieu of the request for bailout indicated a requirement of N38bn to clear all the outstanding salaries as of October 2015.
“Only N14.2bn was approved for the state. It is also public knowledge that when the facility was received, the state government transparently set up a committee dominated by Labour leaders in the state to allocate all the resources to the payment of some of the outstanding salaries and pensions.
“Unlike other states, ICPC and Labour leaders reviewed the application of the facility and commended the government of Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu for prudently managing the bailout loan without diverting any portion to competing needs.
“Even with regards to the approval from the Abia State House of Assembly to borrow N30bn, the Ikpeazu administration never accessed those funds to date. We challenge Mr. Otti to publish the name(s) of the local bank that availed the facility to the state government or shut up.”