Emerging Facts On The Missing Abia Airport

Emerging Facts On The Missing Abia Airport

14th May 2024, NewsOrient
Opinion, Column, Governance And Development, News
By Emeka Nwosu, PhD.

At his recent trip to the United States of America, the Governor of Abia State, Dr. Alex Chioma Otti, made a startling revelation on how the funds of the State to the princely tune of N107 Billion were diverted by the immediate past administration of the State led by Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu.

These huge funds were purportedly spent on phantom projects which cannot be located anywhere in the State.

Out of these funds, the sum of N10 Billion was said to have been spent by Ikpeazu`s Government on a non-existent Abia Airport.

Governor Otti disclosed that these facts were unearthed by a forensic audit conducted by one of the three leading audit firms in the world.

The startling disclosure sent shock waves to all the length and breadth of Abia State, as people reacted with disbelief that such a monumental heist could be committed against the good people of Abia by a government that was elected to provide development and protect the interest of the State.

Out of panic, former Governor Ikpeazu, through his spokespersons dismissed Otti`s claims as a fabrication that does not deserve any consideration.

They went to the extent of calling Dr. Otti a liar, noting that his allegations against his predecessor were mere fallacies.

They challenged Governor Otti to prove the claims. Ikpeazu`s spokespersons created the impression that Otti was making an unfounded allegation aimed at tarnishing the image of the former Governor.

They contended that the fact Otti made the disclosure in a foreign land other than in Nigeria was an indication that the claim was with no substance.

However, a few days ago in his monthly media engagement with the people of Abia, Governor Otti came up with more facts which showed that he was dead serious in getting into the roots of the missing airport and the huge sums of money that were diverted into private pockets by the officials of the Ikpeazu administration.

With the details provided by the Governor in his parley with the media in Umuahia, the State Capital, the issue is no longer whether funds were illegally diverted and shared.

That much has been established by the forensic audit. What is of interest to the people of Abia State now is how soon these looted funds would be retrieved and returned to the treasury and getting the looters to face the wrath of the law?

It is now in the public domain that the audit firm that was commissioned by Abia State Government to undertake the investigations is KPMG. This fact was made known by Governor Otti in his interaction with the media a few days ago.

Only this morning, Tuesday, 14th May, 2024, the forensic report with all the details was made public by the Government.

The emerging facts from the audit report clearly showed that a terrible heist was committed against the people of Abia State.

The forensic report established that the Ikpeazu administration transferred N10 Billion airport funds into 32 different company accounts before it was shared.

Governor Otti had noted in his media parley that the funds had already been transferred out of the State account before they approached the Abia State Government for approval.

According to Otti, the construction company that was used for the phantom airport project (FEROTEX) had admitted, upon investigations, that it never applied to be awarded the aborted airport project by the Ikpeazu administration.

I have browsed through the 360 page report. The level of sleaze and financial malfeasance committed by the Ikpeazu administration is incredible, to say the least.

What is mind boggling is the impunity, audacity and brazenness with which these atrocious acts were committed.

Apart from the missing airport that gulped N10 Billion, other incredible disclosures by the report included the sum of N3.2 Billion that was expended on a new Government House complex in Ogurube Layout Umuahia, which is at best today, an uncompleted project.

The sum of N650 Million and N852 Million were purportedly spent on landscaping and furnishings respectively with nothing show for the expenditures.

Most importantly, a 250 KVA Generator that was purportedly supplied at the new Government House is nowhere to be found.

There is another disclosure of the dualization and expansion of Ururuka Road Phase 2 from Ikpeazu`s hometown of Umuobiakwa in Obingwa LGA to Isi Court in Umuahia South LGA Road which was purportedly executed with the sum of N47.4 Billion. There is nothing on ground to show that this project was executed.

Another shocking disclosure in the report is the award of 35 contracts by the Ikpeazu administration amounting to N83.3 Billion without the approval of the Governor. The purported projects covered by the contracts cannot be traced anywhere in the State. This is unbelievable, but it happened in Abia State under Ikpeazu`s watch. The security agencies should be interested in knowing what happened to these funds and bring all those implicated in the fraud to book.

The forensic report also established land racketeering and other monumental frauds in the allocation of plots by the Ministry of Lands, Survey and Urban Planning. Out of a total of 91 files analyzed by KPMG, it established that 65 allottees who never filed any applications receive land allocations with many of them not paying any dime to the coffers of the State.

As promised by Dr. Otti, now that the report is in public domain, the rest of the work would be handled by the security agencies. For him, his interest was only for the stolen funds to be released rather than seeking to jail the people involved in the malfeasance. But majority of the people would disagree with Governor Otti on the nature of sanctions to be applied against the suspected culprits.

While they would want the stolen funds returned, they are reportedly insisting that all the suspects in the matter must face the music without delay. They would want to see them cool their heels in our custodial centres for their criminal conduct.

The impending day of reckoning is reportedly causing a lot of panic and fear within the Ikpeazu camp. This is because it has become obvious that Otti is stopping at nothing to ensure that the funds purportedly spent on the missing airport and other phantom projects are fully recovered. The people of Abia are fully behind Otti on this.

Dr. Nwosu, a Public Policy Analyst, writes from Umuahia.
Email: cdnwosu2@gmail.com

~ NewsOrient