Governor Alex Otti of Abia State has reacted to a PREMIUM TIMES report on his abandonment of a newly built multi-billion naira Government House in Umuahia, the state capital, since assuming office about six months ago.
This newspaper on Sunday published how Mr Otti was running the government from his country home outside of Umuahia, after abandoning both the New Government House and Old Government House Complexes. Lawyers told this newspaper that Mr Oti’s action was not illegal but raised questions about the use or abandonment of public properties.
The governor’s decision to operate from his private residence in his village has placed a financial burden on the Abia State Government with about N2 million spent monthly for fueling of vehicles of state officials who travel to the village for meetings, findings by PREMIUM TIMES showed.
‘Why I operate from my private residence’
Addressing reporters on Tuesday through his spokesperson, Kazie Uko, Mr Otti said he preferred operating from his private residence to save cost instead of “lavishing” public funds to renovate the governor’s lodge within the old Government House, Vanguard newspaper reported.
Mr Otti suggested that both the old and the new government complexes were in bad condition and that they “require serious funds” to be put in order.
The governor claimed that he decided to sacrifice his personal comfort so as to be able to attend to the “urgent needs of the state with positive impacts” on the masses.
He also claimed that the new governor’s lodge commissioned by the administration of the former governor of the state, Okezie Ikpeazu, on the eve of his handover day, was yet to be completed.
Despite video evidence published by PREMIUM TIMES, Mr Otti claimed that the new Government House building was “hurriedly” commissioned by Mr Ikpeazu’s administration without completion “with cables dangling everywhere” and “without power supply.”
“This is the multi-billion Abia New Government House they said Gov. Otti abandoned. You have seen the inside. It’s like a carpentry workshop and a showroom.
“You see how part of the parapet is beginning to peel off. Part of the fence has already collapsed and you saw workers rebuilding it,” he said.
However, a PREMIUM TIMES reporter who visited on 3 October, observed that there was no sign of human activity within the complex.
Also, the governor’s spokesperson had told this reporter during his October visit that renovating the complex for use was not among the state government’s priorities.
When asked by the reporters on Tuesday if six months was not enough for him to rebuild the Government House to his taste and operate from it, Mr Otti said he did not consider fixing his official lodge a priority amidst various emergencies in the state.
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“Some contractors were bringing quotations that ran into hundreds of millions, and some close to N1 billion just to renovate the Government House. And the governor said it was not a priority when Abia pensioners were being owed, civil servants not paid and our hospitals in ruins,” he said.
The governor was silent on the financial burden placed on the state government occasioned by his running the government from a private residence outside the state capital.
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