From Okey Sampson
The Abia State Government has debunked Dr Alex Otti’s claim on why he stopped a $200 million the government could have obtained from the African Development Bank (AfDB).
During a press briefing at his country home Umuru Nvosi, in Isiala Ngwa South Local Government Area earlier in the week, Otti said he stopped the loan because “the state government falsified documents, and did not seek approval of the then state House of Assembly, and that the state lacked capacity to repay the loan considering it had other outstanding unpaid debts.”
In a statement, an aide to Abia State Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, Michael Nwabueze said it was unfortunate that Otti decided to be economical with the truth on the matter.
The statement made it clear that in 2017, Abia was among 10 states given accelerated approval to borrow a total sum of $1.5 billion from multilateral agencies and France.
The statement added was part of the 2016-2018 External Borrowing (Rolling) Plan whose approval the Presidency had sought in August 2016. It named the other states that sought the loan alongside Abia to include Kaduna, Ogun, Ebonyi, Jigawa, Kano, Plateau, Enugu, Ondo and Katsina.
Nwabueze said the loan approved for Abia was for the Abia Rural Access and Mobility Project which was expected to deliver at least 10km of roads in each of the 17 LGAs with all relevant statutory approvals obtained and verified by the National Assembly before assent.
The governor’s aide stated that all the other states duly obtained their respective facilities and used the same to develop their states including states with much lesser repayment capacity than Abia.
Nwabueze said contrary to the Labour Party governorship candidate’s claim of the state not having the capacity to repay the loan that neither the federal government nor AfDB would approve a facility without verifying the capacity to pay back and relevant legislative approvals.
The only motivating factor the governor’s aide said that made Otti stop the loan was because he erroneously thought Ikpeazu would have used it to prosecute the 2019 Governorship election.
Nwabueze said it is ironic that Otti who said Abia wouldn’t have been able to repay the facility, is now saying if he becomes a governor, he would borrow to govern the state.
The statement made it clear that it was wrong for Otti to criticize the Ikpeazu administation when he “severally attempted to distract the governor from effectively governing the state by taking him to every available court in the country” until the Supreme Court settled the matter in favour of Ikpeazu.
On whether the Abia State House of Assembly approved of the loan, the statement emphatically said ”Obviously, the facility was approved by the state House of Assembly for infrastructure development”.
Nwabueze urged Abians to be mindful of when they are deceived or told the truth by politicians, particularly during this electioneering.