New Government House: Alex Otti’s Endless Falsehood and Belaboured Explanations, a Mockery of Quality Leadership

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My attention has been drawn to a statement issued by Governor Alex Otti through his spokesman where he sought, as usual, to buck pass for his inability to effectively and efficiently manage the intricacies of statecraft in Abia State due to his innate and irredeemable personal character flaws and incurable resentment for his predecessors in office.

Unfortunately, try as hard as he might, there are certain self evident truths and facts that no propaganda and lies can obliterate.

Let’s consider the following:

1. It is laughable that Otti claims to have come across a document showing that his predecessor diverted N500m of state funds to his private pocket and yet all he could do to prove this fallacy was embark on a tirade of fruitless and diversionary media propaganda.

For a man reputedly skilled in petition writing, threatening his predecessor with anti-graft agencies, and who has, indeed, already set up a kangaroo probe panel to resort to media bullying testifies to the fact that there is no substance whatsoever in his outlandish claims.

2. Further confirmation of Otti’s desperate deployment of propaganda in this instance as always can be traced to the fact that the Premium Times report that has exposed him as published last week was the product of independent findings from a painstaking investigation carried out by the media house between October 2023 and date of publication.

The Chief Press Secretary to Governor Otti can testify on oath that the reporters of premium times contacted him some time in October as they did other relevant stakeholders in and out of government including my humble self as part of their first 100 Days achievement report for politucal leaders. All I personally did was to respond to them on the false allegations made against Ikpeazu’s administration by Otti.

3. Claiming that Ikpeazu found out something in November and sent whoever to attack Otti is too childish even by the very low standard of honesty associated with the Otti administration. I retain evidence that it was in October that the media house contacted me personally to ask questions bothering on why our cureent governor is operating from his village residence and taking up huge costs just like I am sure Otti’s Chief Press Secretary retain same evidence and must have so informed his boss.

4. Unlike Mr Otti, former Governor Okezie Ikpeazu will never willingly embark on making false public claims, and everyone living in Abia State is aware that he has always given credit to his predecessor for starting the new government house project. Video and audio records from the commissioning of the project on the 27th of May 2023 by Governor Seyi Makinde will confirm that in his brief remarks, Dr Ikpeazu acknowledged that the work was started by his predecessor and completed by his own administration.

Apart from acknowledging his predecessor and finishing new govt house project, we equally completed international Conference Center (ICC), ASUBEB headquarters and proceeded to rename ICC after Senator TA Orji who started the project. In fact it was our policy, under Ikpeazu, to continue all projects that were within our work plan irrespective of who commenced it because we believed that abandoned project syndrome should be mundane and thrashed as it leads to waste of tax payers money.

5. I therefore challenge Otti to boldly tell the world that he has not successfully started and completed any project outside the low hanging ones that Dr Ikpeazu delivered at least 70% of before handing over to him, yet, he has never acknowledged the former Governor because of bitterness of soul and spirit.

6. Pictures of the valedictory service and executive council meetings of the Ikpeazu administration held at the new government house Umuahia are available in the (social) media for verification.

Moreover, Mr Otti must have received and reviewed the brief from the valedictory EXCO meeting hence it is shocking that he continues to peddle falsehood in order to mislead the people on what is available at the location.

7. If not for propaganda purposes why on earth will Otti in one breath claim that the project was designed and started by Ikpeazu’s predecessor yet sought to blame Ikpeazu for the structure not meeting his personal high taste? Can’t Abia elders ask Otti to let Dr Ikpeazi breathe for Christ’s sake?

8. As can be seen in some of these pictures taken on May 28th 2023, Ikpeazu handed over a beautiful new government house complex meant to accommodate the Governor who in turn may wish to erect other structures to suit his elitist and champagne lifestyle. This complex includes a distinct proximal lodge for his security aides, Governor’s office and home at the first/second floors along with offices for his key staff including the Chief of Staff, the protocol unit and other aides.

9. As at the time of handing over to Otti we knew a day like this would come and decided to archive video recordings and still pictures of what was handed over to him, and anyone can see the images for themselves to confirm the actual state of what was handed over.

10. Mr Otti deliberately allowed the complex to go into disrepair and lack of maintenance because, according to him, he does not want to touch anything associated with Ikpeazu outside claiming his projects. He made good his mischief when he also abandoned the multi-specialist hospital, Enyimba Garment and Shoe factories in Aba among others handed over to him with security men guarding the facilities as Ikpeazu was exiting.

The then Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuany of Enugu State, Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo state and Forner Senate President Ahmed Lawan all of who physically inspected and commissioned these projects must be wondering what exactly is Otti talking about and the type of leader he is that will abandon those high quality facilities and later turn around to categorise them as unfit.

11. Right thinking Nigerians, if you abandon your house for 6 months and come back to take pictures what are you expecting to see?

12. The simple fact is that Otti’s bitterness toward Dr Ikpeazu is costing Abia tax payers a lot. Right from his Inauguration Day when he brought in a gigantic choir altar that engulfed him because of his brief height, instead of using the official podium used by his predecessor and made available to him, Otti has not hidden his disdain and hatred for Dr Ikpeazu and anything associated with him.

Unfortunately, he inherently cannot match or diminish the achievements and personality of his predecessor who has long moved on from thinking and talking about governance issues in Abia even though he still loves Abia passionately.

13. For the avoidance of doubt, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu is a former two-term Governor who did not leave behind anything he wishes to retrieve from the office of the Governor. It is only those that feel dwarfed by his records in office that are mentioning his name everywhere and plotting vainly to bring him to public odium. If Otti is sure he can match Ikpeazu’s achievements in office, he should start working today instead of spewing out expensive propaganda to hoodwink the gullible. No other Governor is spending more than N542m to fund propaganda and lies in Nigeria today apart from Otti. To peddle and sustain falsehood is an expensive venture.

14. Contrary to the often repeated lie by Otti that Ikpeazu lived in a “two bedroom bungalow in the village” before his emergence as Governor of Abia State, I personally recall visiting Dr Ikpeazu who was a former TC Chairman, former HOD of Biochemistry and former Deputy General Manager of ASEPA in charge of Aba in his 8-bedroom duplex with 6-room boys quarter that his mum used then as a maternity clinic in his Umuobiakwa Obingwa village. Only a man who made money through illegal means will disrespect an honest man who lived modestly within his income as at the time. Honestly, it is really funny that in our present day Nigeria a Governor will rubbish honesty and modesty while elevating and celebrating ill gotten wealth that ruined a once thriving banking institution and still has the temerity to posture as an apostle of Peter Obi.

15. I hope modest living Peter Obi is reading the disdain Otti shows towards modesty in life and public service. Right from the beginning we insisted that Otti is not Peter Obi but some of our people didn’t take that into account during the polls and here we are spending N927m on official gluttony, celebrating ownership of multiple bullet-proof vehicles as achievements whereas Mr Peter Obi who is by far legitimately wealthier than Otti not only goes about his life modestly but also celebrates modesty in public service.

16. Recently, Otti falsely claimed that he is not living in any of the 3 government houses in Abia State because he wishes to save cost but as we now know he is running the government with the highest cost of governance in the south east and even comparatively in the entire Nigeria.

That he is getting angry that he was exposed by his own Q3 budget performance report that showed that he collected a whopping N2.8bn as security votes in 3 months (July – September 2023), spent N927m on food and entertainment and racked up a total of N5.3bn as cost of running his office from his village bedroom within the same period is quite understandable but it must be stated that it was not Ikpeazu or John Okiyi Kalu that published the original report.

17. The odoriferous Q3 budget report that included over N700m wasted on fictitious bank charges by a former banker who ought to know better came from Otti himself and he should carry his cross. Abians deserve to know what we borrowed from the banks that we are spending so much on bank charges and that is what Mr Otti should be explaining right now.

18. Even today, with all the media uproar against Governor Otti’s wild spending spree and luxurious living, he sponsored Abia state government officials on a training and eating jamboree to Lagos where they took over the whole of Raddisson Blue hotel in Ikeja at a very high cost to the state. The associated cost should be enough to furnish his bedroom at the new government house so that he will stop blaming Ikpeazu for not furnishing and making a bed for him with rosy bedsheets.

That huge amount spent in Lagos these past 3 days is never a sign of prudence!

19. All we are saying is that Otti should reduce such gluttonous lifestyle and run a government that delivers at least 90% of state resources to the people of the state and not to himself and his cronies. His propaganda, threats and posturing will not stop us from scrutinizing him because the money he is wasting and appropriating to himself belongs to all Abians.

20. Interestingly, Otti has now publicly claimed that he bought all the bullet proof SUVs he parades in his long convoy with his personal money after claiming through his aides that he used part of his security votes of N933m/month and N5.2bn servicing of Governor’s office in Isiala Ngwa to buy vehicles.

For the records, the Ikpeazu administration handed over 2 brand new vehicles to him for use on May 29th 2023 and with his current denial of state procurement of his his numerous bullet l-proof SUVs we now deserve to know exactly what he spent N5.2bn and N2.8bn of state funds on.

21. Similarly, Governor Otti claimed that he singlehandedly awarded a contract of N32bn to Julius Berger and they gave him a discount of N2bn. Why is he not using the discount to fix his official lodge to his high taste? Meanwhile, Julius Berger is yet to show up along the Port Harcourt Road Aba several weeks after Otti staged a carnival-like flag off ceremony with state funds to hoodwink Aba people and claimed that he had paid for the project. Now he is going about inspecting federal government projects along Enugu-Umuahia-Aba-Port Harcourt Expressway to deceive the media into believing that it is same with his N32bn most expensive road project in Nigeria.

22. We also hope that Otti is not desperately making the false claim of “personal funds” because he knows what will come in the fullness of time regarding those bullet-proof vehicles. In any case, that a supposedly elected Governor decided not to stay and work from any of the 3 existing government houses might well signpost a spiritual signal that only God and our ancestors might know.

23. Former Governor Ikpeazu lived and worked in same Old Government House Umuaha and the 3-bedroom Aba Lodge as Governor for 8 years and clearly told the people of the state that he was comfortable working for them from there as he wished to prioritize their welfare over his but promised to deliver a new government house for the use of his successor. He delivered the new government house to Otti along with the other 2 old government houses. If Otti does not like Ikpeazu’s new government house he can at least be modest enough to live and work from the old government house while fixing it to his very luxurious taste.

24. For the information of members of the public, there is a presidential lodge at the old government house that Otti could have stayed in while fixing the main Governor’s lodge to his his high taste. Otti spent N700m to renovate the Commisioner’s quarters and also spent more fixing banquet hall of old government house but according to him he is ostensibly saving cost hence refused to fix his own lodge at the old or new government houses. Akuko Mike Ejeagha!!

How on earth did Otti appropriate millions of Naira refurbishing the old banquet hall of government house where he refused to hang the picture of President Tinubu and later discovered that it was smelling? Was it smelling when you inherited it or after refurbishment?

25. As Commissioners under Ikpeazu we were clearly told that our assignment during those austere days required making personal sacrifices in order to deliver more to the people of Abia State. We took 50% salary and allowances cut and agreed to live in the existing Commissioner’s quarters rather than prioritize spending of more than N700m to fix a comfortable accommodation for us while our people suffer under harsh economic conditions.

Apparently Otti prefers to make himself and his small clique of cabal more comfortable before considering the welfare of the good people of Abia State. That’s his right but history will tell who actually prioritized the people over self aggrandizement and luxurious lifestyle.

26. It is funny that Otti now wants to bring media houses to the new government house complex for inspection after leaving it in ruins for more than 6 months. Why didn’t he take them there immediately after his inauguration and allow them to release the pictures and videos of the things they saw then?

At best Otti’s proposed media propaganda tour will prove to the world that he left government assets handed over to him to rot away because of genetically enabled bitterness of soul and spirit.

27. Why did Mr Governor Otti fail and/or neglected to protect government facilities and assets handed over to him but waited for things to deteriorate before embarking on his usual cheap media propaganda?

28. In any case we are publishing pictures and videos of what we handed over to him on May 29th 2023 and any thing contrary that might feature there today shows his ineptitude in safe guarding government assets.

Please, Mr Governor go ahead and further expose your self the same way your own Q3 budget performance report exposed you to the world. We will match every picture or video you produce with video of what it was as at May 29th 2023.

29. If Otti can publicly put on record that “Okezie Ikpeazu did not build any Government House, rather he completed two structures of two storey buildings each started by his predecessor,” then by same token he should look himself in the mirror and tell himself that since he became Governor he has not built anything at all.

30. Mr Alex Otti has not started and completed any new project in Abia State since he became Governor but goes about repainting his predecessor’s projects or patching roads done by others hence by his own admission he has done absolutely NOTHING and should refund all the money he took from our state account.

31. It is also laughable that Otti claimed in one breath that Ikpeazu’s predecessor built the new government house and yet blame Ikpeazu for not stopping private citizens from building “high rise buildings” around the fenced new government house complex. Is that not laughable, to say the least? And what exactly is Mr Otti planning to do in our new government house that he does not want people to see?

32. Has Otti not visited other government houses in Nigeria, UK and other places? For public records the closest house to new government house Umuahia is the ministry of local government and Chieftaincy affairs complex. Ikpeazu completed the new JAAC building started by his predecessor and all Otti has to do is move the ministry to the new JAAC building so he can live in solitary luxury inside the new government house complex as he desires.

33. Again, if Otti believes that the new complex must accommodate his deputy and others why didn’t he use the more than N252m fictitiously spent on office of deputy governor to construct a new house for him at the lodge given that the space for expansion is available?

34. Does Governor Otti actually know that he has spent more on food and entertainment than the N1bn he claimed to need to fix the new government house to his high taste? Note that the N927m reported officially does not include what he consumed in June, October and November 2023.

35. Please, Mr Governor, what stops your Deputy and others from working at the old government house while you fix a place for them at the new one? Most importantly, is your deputy, Chief of Staff and those you listed also living in your private heaven on earth palace in Nvosi Isiala Ngwa since you want to claim that they must live wherever you live and work?

35. In any case, a thinking Governor will simply move the ministry of local government and chieftaincy affairs that is adjacent to the new government house to JAAC building, annex and use it as office for his Deputy and others he listed. Originally, those adjoining structures were meant to be part of the new government house complex but poverty of ideas and prioritization of bitter propaganda will not let our LP Governor see that at all or ask questions.

36. Stating that Emeka Omerua lodge was “literally converted to a chalet” is an ill-advised outburst because those who live in glass houses should not throw stones. It is akin to the recent use of the word “dwarf” in communication by aides of Governor Otti.

37. Asking if “Ikpeazu and John Okiyi Kalu want Governor Otti to draw hundreds of millions like them for the renovation of government house, and turn around to squander it” is a no brainer because we now know which Governor squandered N927m on food and entertainment, collects N933m every month as security votes without accounting to the people and uses a scandalous N5.3bn to run his office as Governor. Feel free to compare Q3 2022 expenditure of Dr Ikpeazu with Q3 2023 expenditure of Otti and decide for yourself who exactly is suffering from squander-mania.

Obviously, Governor Otti is hurting from the public exposure of his government’s financial recklessness and, hence, is desperately looking for how to divert attention frim that but he won’t be able to achieve that. He must give details of how we ended up with the highest security related expenditures and security votes in Nigeria as well used N927m to “chop life” while common Abians are suffering to make ends meet.

Even the rice sent to Abia by President Tinubu was diverted by Governor Otti to his party men while the majority of our people got nothing must be accounted for.. We are yet to also hear what he did with the balance of N3bn given to him by President Tinubu to alleviate the suffering of our people occasioned by high cost of petroleum products and the devaluation of naira.

Now we know why he sacked Abian civil servants in their thousands in one fell swoop without any plausible reason: he needed money saved from their salaries to further fund his personal lifestyle of luxury and that of his cronies.

Mr Governor Sir, propaganda and lies will not protect you for long because they have expiry date. Just change your bitter attitude to leadership, scandalous lifestyle in the midst of suffering masses and refocus to achieve even one substantial thing that will exist outside your social media proganda. All you have done with your tissue of lies and conjectures is to confirm to the world that Ikpeazu prudently managed meager resources available under his watch while you are wasting much more resources seeking personal comfort and luxury at the expense of the people.

Chief John Okiyi Kalu
Former Commissioner for Ministries of Information; Trade & Investment, Abia State.

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