10 MILLION JUMBO SALARY: You lied, Ex – Abia Commissioner, Obinna Oriaku bombs Abia Finance Commissioner, Mike Akpara, states the facts

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Since I left government as a Commissioner of Finance , I have cultivated the penchant of monitoring interviews of State officials when I have the time which always comes at a cost to my other schedules.

This I do, either directly or indirectly for two reasons:
1. To follow up with the developments in governance in a State I am a stakeholder in.

2. To review engagement as to ensure I am not in any way implicated for what should ordinarily not have my name anywhere miles around such conversations.

The above reasons suffices in explaining how the interview session with Mr. Mike Akpara, the current Commissioner For Finance, hosted by Love FM Umuahia on 4th July 2024
became of interest to me.

As much as I commend the Honorable Commissioner for coming on air to provide answers to some questions bordering on salaries, Pension and the humongous entitlements of his office, I however wish to place on record without fear of contradiction that his receipt of 10million naira monthly entitlement is in line with past traditions in the office of Finance commissioners, is to all intents and purposes, misleading as I Obinna Oriaku who served between June 2015 to June 2019 is an exception and the reasons are self evident.

1. I offered Pro Bono Service to Abia State.

What that means was that throughout my four years in office as an appointee of the government, I did not receive a salary from the Abia State government.

I was on secondment from First Bank Ltd., which continued to pay my monthly salary while I served as Commissioner.

2. I was the mastermind of Cost Reduction Measures akin to that era.

Upon assumption of office, in line with our philosophy of disruptive change, I reduced the cost of attending monthly FAAC meetings in Abuja from N1.6 million to N500,000 over four years.

Note, the disruption was not only for my office then but across board including monthly salary of the Governor that was reduced by 50%

3. Commissioner’s Salaries:

The salary for commissioners remained at N196,000 until 2023.

Additionally, the executive council (Exco) allowance was reduced from N1 million to N500,000, reflecting the economic realities of the recession at the time.

This Exco allowance albeit irregular, was sustained even till I left in June 2019.

It is therefore preposterous and absolutely misleading, to make a claim, that his N10 million monthly salary is in line with the tradition he inherited from past Commissioners of Finance.

From such a claim I completely exonerate myself and state unequivocally that I was not part of it .

I would go further by imploring him to call up files relating to payments made during my stay in that office to verify my claims.

I can assure Mr Akpara that his investigations will reveal that there was no such claims.

In addition, no monthly overhead was approved for my office; Expenses on my driver and police escort’s, entertainment of visitors, and the fueling and maintenance of my car were personally borne by me.

It is therefore both unconscionable and provocative to justify the current N10 million per month even with an intention for a review, when night and traveling allowances for top civil servants in Abia state and salary have remained what it has been for the past years regardless of attendant inflationary trends .

While I sympathize with the current administration for their peculiar economic challenges, I urge Mr. Akpara to desist from the culture of generalisation, that seeks to paint all past commissioners with the same brush, as he might inadvertently burn his fingers irredeemably by doing such.

For whoever cares to know, the administration of former Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, particularly from 2015 to 2017, was populated with selfless individuals who served sacrificially to reposition the state.

Lastly, it’s essential and advisable to maintain transparency and integrity in public office in order to earn and retain the trust of the people.

Misrepresenting the past for pecuniary reasons will only deepen mistrust and hinder progress towards a more equitable and just governance.

Again, what is “new” in the acclaimed ‘ New Abia’ if we constantly imitate the “old” ways inappropriate actions and inactions.

Obinna Oriaku

Ekwedike.

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