The attention of the Abia PDP has been drawn to yet another controversial exercise by Alex Otti wherein he conducted the second flag-off of the construction of the 6.7km Port Harcourt Road which ongoing work was started by the immediate past PDP administration of Dr. Okezie Victor Ikpeazu.
While the Abia PDP appreciates the fact that Alex Otti has continued from where the previous administration stopped, we are also not amazed at his proclivity to take credit for work he did not do as we have witnessed in the past four months. This is another case where Alex Otti has tried to score cheap popularity by taking glory for a project which was essentially initiated by the last administration and which more than 40 per cent had been delivered before his assumption of office.
The Abia PDP is therefore compelled by this weighty circumstance to put the records straight for unsuspecting Abians to know the true and correct story of the Port Harcourt Road which Alex Otti has refused to acknowledge the foundational efforts of the past PDP government of Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu.
In a road construction exercise, the first and most important step is to secure the Right of Way. At the time Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu wanted to commence the reconstruction of the PH road to a six-lane dual carriageway, the original Master Plan of the road had been breached by developers who had encroached on the road layout by building on top of drainages and walkways. Repossessing the encroached areas was a herculean task and the PDP government of Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu achieved that at a very huge cost after series of near-interminable negotiations with developers which lasted for years.
After the repossession, the next issue was funding for the massive six-lane dual carriageway, other feeder and local roads in Abia, erosion control and waste management in Abia and the government approached the African Development Bank, AfDB, as lead lender of a consortium of other international development lenders for financing of the projects put at a cost of $263.80m. The process was dutifully initiated by the Abia government and extant procedures and due process were followed including seeking approvals from the National Assembly and the Federal Ministry of Finance.
Within the processing period, the Abia government was required as a project partner to make a counterpart funding as a show and proof of commitment and this it did by deploying funds to build the high standard drainage which stands strong and firm on both sides of the road today. In addition, earthwork was done along the said road between No. 1 Port Harcourt Road and Uratta Junction.
Having fulfilled its side of the bargain, the lead financier announced that it would release $100m to the Abia government for the construction of Port Harcourt and other roads in Abia.
Following that announcement the devils in the detail came into the mix including Alex Otti who later publicly boasted that he had used his connections to stop an AfDB facility which was being processed by the Abia government for construction of roads and other projects. The Okezie Ikpeazu administration was not deterred and continued to pursue the facility’s first tranche of $115m which was finally approved and announced by the AfDB on June 30, 2023, a month after its tenure had expired.
Discerning Abians and Nigerians who are not carried away by the mischievous antics of Alex Otti and his ‘yes men’ in the Labour Party know these facts to be true and will always recognize the best efforts of Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu who started the groundwork that culminated in the latest deceitful flag-off of a road that has already been under construction.
After his usually long, boring and empty speech at the exercise during which he never stopped campaigning against the PDP at every little opportunity, Alex Otti failed to mention the cost of the project which would be repaid with Abia’s money. At the time of the second flag off, no bid publication was made nor did the Abia State House of Assembly sit to consider and approve the project budget as required by the Abia Public Procurement Act.
In one of his public posturing exercises, he had invited many prominent Igbo sons and daughters including the famed Director General of the World Trade Organisation, WTO Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and former World Bank top executive Dr. Obiageli Ezekwesili to give undeserved credence to his floundering popularity and they charged him to be accountable and transparent in the conduct of government business. Minutes after they left the podium, Alex Otti reversed to his original self and has continued to run Abia like a personal estate.
The Abia PDP is proud to have laid strong foundations in many instances, including the Port Harcourt road project, upon which Alex Otti is building and we charge him to come clean with the financial details of these projects in Abia and always make public the costs.
We also call on the good people of Abia and members of civil society organizations to prevail upon Alex Otti to govern with transparency and not remain opaque in the conduct of government business. The price of liberty they say is eternal vigilance.
*PDP – Power to the People!*
Hon. Elder Abraham Amah
Abia PDP Vice Chairman/Acting State Publicity Secretary