My administration experienced hostile handover ― Otti


Dr Alex Otti, Abia state governor, narrated how his administration experienced a hostile handover on May 29, 2023, when he took over governance from his predecessor, Okezie Ikpeazu.

Otti, while inaugurating a judicial panel of inquiry to recover government properties and funds allegedly looted during previous administrations in the state, lamented that the situation made it difficult for him to hit the ground running.

He stated this at Abia Government House, Umuahia, while also claiming that he assumed office unthinkingly and below ground zero, alleging that he had discovered that the reason for non-cooperation may have arisen from mischief from those who are in the custody of public properties and funds.

He said, “Let me reveal that this administration experienced a very hostile handover situation which made it difficult for us to hit the ground running on May 29, as we had anticipated. We, therefore, assumed office blindly and had to start practically from below ground zero. We are now discovering that the lack of cooperation might have arisen from widespread mischief by some who were given custody of our collective assets and welfare.”

“It gives me great pleasure to have you here today to inaugurate this judicial panel of inquiry into the recovery of public assets. Ordinarily, the desire of this administration would have been to focus on the business of governance and the delivering of the dividend of democracy without resorting to any form of inquiry into past deeds. Unfortunately, since we assumed office, about a month ago, we have been inundated with complaints of unimaginable and large-scale malfeasance by very highly placed members of the past government and their patrons. We have also experienced unbridled looting and misuse of government properties and resources. Besides, we have been experiencing difficulties in accessing government properties, which would usually be available to continue with the business of governance.

“As of now, so many MDAs find it very difficult to perform their day-to-day duties. Even public schools were not spared as their lands were converted to private use.

“It is for the primary reasons that we concluded that it would amount to being insensitive and reckless and encouraging lousy behaviour if our administration did not listen to the yearnings of those who elected us by looking into their complaints.

“The government decided to set up this Judicial Panel of Inquiry to ensure the recovery of government funds and properties.”

He listed the terms of reference to the panel of inquiry to include;” To receive and examine complaints and memoranda from individuals and corporate entities on the looting and or conversion of Government Properties, funds and related matters and where necessary make recommendations to the government for remedial measures or any other measures as appropriate.

“Examine and ascertain whether government moveable and immovable assets and funds or part of it has been illegally acquired, occupied, converted to private use and identify the persons responsibly and further make recommendations for recovery and appropriate sanctions.

“Ascertain the extent of allocation and revocation of land in Abia State from May 2015 – May 2023 and determine the propriety of such allocation and revocation. Review the award and execution of contracts from May 2015 to May 2023 and ascertain if they conformed with extant laws.

“To investigate any other matter incidental or related to the preceding terms of reference and make recommendations to the government based on their findings.”

The Governor further directed the panel to perform its work expeditiously. He urged the public to support them with any information that would help in the recovery of looted government properties and funds.

Otti also noted that the setting up of the panel should guide officeholders that when they have served out their tenure, the same standards would be used to judge them and urge them not to be found wanting.

Justice Florence Ikwuoma Duruoha-Igwe, a retired judicial officer, will be the panel chairperson. Other Members include Prof. Ogwo E. Ogwo, Prof. Ursula Ngozi Akanwa, Mazi Ugochukwu Okoroafor, and Rev. Fr. Bar. Alex Okonkwo.

Meanwhile, Otti has felicitated with Muslims across Nigeria on this year’s Eid el Kabir Festival celebration.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Governor particularly rejoiced with the Muslim community in Abia State as they join millions of other faithful worldwide to mark this most important religious feast in the Islamic calendar.

He said: “This year’s Eid el Kabir celebration is remarkable for us in Abia, being the first in the life of this administration. I, therefore, would like to use the opportunity of this memorable occasion to sincerely thank the Muslim community in this state for their immense support that helped to bring about this new government.

“I believe that our government is the answer to the many years of supplication to Almighty God by the people of Abia State and their yearnings for a credible leader that would lead them out of bondage and into a glorious era of socio-economic freedom and abundance.

“Just like the great Prophet Ibrahim demonstrated his loyalty to God even to the point of sacrificing his son, I urge us all to, in a similar manner, remain faithful and continue to uphold the leadership of the state in prayer as we strive to rebuild our state and provide the conducive environment for our people to live, work and prosper.

“We are already on the march to fulfilling the promises we made to you and the entire people of Abia during the campaigns, first, by declaring emergencies in the various environmental, health and education sectors. Second, by beginning the regular payment of monthly salaries to our civil servants with the payment of June salary effective Wednesday 28th.

“While we are working assiduously to rid our cities of Aba and Umuahia of mountains of wastes we inherited from the previous administration, we have also put measures in place to sanitise our motor parks, streets and markets to improve the ease of doing business and subsequently establish a more civil and effective revenue generation system.

“Yet, all of this will not be possible in an atmosphere of insecurity. Therefore, I, once again, use the occasion of this Eid el Kabir celebration to call on all Abians to be law-abiding, live in peace with their neighbours and not engage in any nefarious activities that would put them at loggerheads with security agencies”.