A civil society group, Foundation for Environmental Rights Advocacy and Development, has asked Governor Alex Otti of Abia State to declare his assets in compliance with Nigerian law on public office holders.
Section 153 of the 1999 Nigeria Constitution requires public officers to declare their assets to the Code of Conduct Bureau on the assumption of office and at the end of the service.
In a statement on Thursday jointly signed by its Executive Director, Nelson Nwafor and head of Legal Team and Litigation, Femisi Akande, the group also asked the immediate past governor of the state, Okezie Ikpeazu, to declare his assets.
Mr Otti, who took over from Mr Ikpeazu, was sworn in as the state’s fifth governor on Monday.
The civil society group further called Messrs Otti and Ikpeazu’s political appointees and immediate family members to declare their assets.
“…Foundation for Environmental Rights Advocacy and Development calls on Dr Alex Otti to make public his assets, including those of wife and children above 18 as enshrined in the 1999 constitution as amended.
“By this release too, we call on ex-Governor Okezie Ikpeazu to also disclose his assets, including funds left in the various government accounts. These have to be declared for transparency and accountability,” the group stated.
The group said it had earlier written to candidates of various political parties which participated in the 18 March governorship election in the state, requesting them to declare their assets.
It noted that the latest demand for the public declaration of assets was timely as it is in line with the provisions of the Fifth Schedule of the 1999 Constitution.
Concern over Abia’s huge debt profile
The civil society group expressed concern at the “unhealthy and unheard size of Abia State debt profile”, which it noted stood at 144 billion in the last quarter of 2022, quoting data from the Debt Management Office.
It also faulted the reported increase in Abia’s “unemployment rate, infrastructural decadence, unpaid backlogs of salaries, entitlements, gratuities and pensions”, among others.
The group reminded Governor Otti that there were enormous tasks ahead of him, which according to them, were “hindering the collective effort of well-meaning indigenes” of the state to endanger economic and infrastructural development.
“A state with financial fate like Abia, with burdensome debt and non-performing budgets, needs recalibrating. This and lots more are all the challenges facing Dr Alex Otti as the (new) governor of Abia State,” it said.
The group said it would continue to ensure that financial discipline was established in fiscal policies of the state in line with the promises of the new governor in his inaugural speech to commit to probity, accountability and prudent use of the state resources.
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