Governor Otti Inherited N191.2 Billion Debt Burden from Ikpeazu

It has now been officially revealed that the former governor of Abia State, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu passed on a debt burden of N191,239,307,593.67 to his successor, Dr Alex Otti, who took over the reins of power on May 29, 2023.

The Special Adviser to Governor Otti on Finance, Mazi Mike Akpara, Thursday disclosed the unsavoury inheritance left for the new government at a press conference in Umuahia jointly held by the finance and the media team of the governor.

Akpara said that it has become necessary “to separate facts from Ikpeazu’s fiction” following claims by officials of the outgone government that “the state was not owing any commercial bank, including temporary overdrafts”.

He said that the new administration had actually heard “the shocking news of several billions of naira allegedly left behind for the Alex Otti-led government by the former government of Dr Okezie Ikpeazu”.

According to him, the “false claims and the fake news” being circulated by former aides of Ikpeazu were intended “to misrepresent facts and deceive the public, especially workers and pensioners whom he treated with utter disdain and disregard”.

Akpara: Ikpeazu didn’t leave any N24 billion in Abia Govt account.

Giving a breakdown of the debt profile left behind by the past government, Akpara said that as at May 28, 2023 the government of Abia State under Ikpeazu left a total loan balance of N77, 927,939,042.82.

He said that the loan facilities were obtained  at three old generation banks and the Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN) and were not repaid by Ikpeazu before he left office on May 29, 2023.

On domestic debt, the special adviser said that a total sum of N71,022,162,441.01 was inherited, comprising N18,162,102,692.92 in salaries and subventions arrears, and pension arrears of N21,283,876,789.80.

Mrs. Njum Onyemenam, Accountant General, Abia State

Other components of the domestic debt, according to Akpara, include gratuity arrears of N27,012,996,061.64 and indebtedness to contractors totalling N4,563,186,896.65.

He put the external debts incurred by the Ikpeazu administration at N42,289,206,109.84, adding that the debt portfolio was expected to keep rising as more discoveries are made.

Akpara, was flanked by the new Accountant General of Abia, Mrs. Njum Onyemenam, Special Adviser on media and publicity, Mr. Ferdinand Ekeoma and the Chief press secretary to the governor, Mr. Kazie Uko.

He debunked the claims that the Ikpeazu administration left N24 billion in the account of Abia State government, describing it as “false claims”.

“The $200 million and $50 million they claimed they left behind for the new administration are loans they were pursuing which is yet to crystallise.

“Outside the humongous financial liabilities left behind by the Ikpeazu-led government, they also left physical liabilities in all our key institutions”.

Akpara argued that it was inconceivable for the immediate past administration to claim that it left huge sums of money considering the mountainous amounts of salary arrears, pensions and gratuities arrears Ikpeazu left behind.

He, therefore, dropped a poser, saying, ‘If Ikpeazu had the billions he claimed to have left behind for the Otti-led government in April and May, why did he not pay workers and pensioners before leaving office”.

The special adviser also insinuated that Ikpeazu was making “provocative claims” of leaving huge sums of money for the Otti administration in order “to preempt anti-corruption agencies”.

“He(Ikpeazu) should know that they(anti-corruption agencies) work with facts and figures, therefore, even if he runs into the APC to seek refugees he is planning to do, these anti-corruption agencies would pursue and bring him to justice from there,” Akpara said.