Governor Okezie Ikpeazu’s monthly security votes and unconfirmed monthly stipends (comically referred to as “blood tonic”) to Abia State “elders” showed the Ikpeazu government favours boondoggles and premeditated onmishambles over development.
This is according to recent revelations by two-time commissioner for information Barrister Eze Chikamnayo.
Chikamnayo’s revelations (yet to be officially denied) have it that immediate past governor now a senator Chief Theodore A. Orji receives N120 million while his son, now the Speaker, Abia State House of Assembly (ABHA), Chinedum Orji, gets N70 million as monthly royalties.
In other words, Ikpeazu annually spends N2.040 billion of public funds (N8.160 billion in his first four years and exactly N16.32 billion by 2023) on family that presided over a government that mismanaged in the region of N500 billion revenues accrued to Abia State in its eight disastrous years.
This amount is enough to build a 20,000 capacity world-class stadium at the cost of $40 million. It can also construct five dual-carriage two-kilometer flyovers at the rate of N3 billion or 20-kilometer standard roads at the cost of $2 million per kilometer.
In an era where civil servants and pensioners are owed 10 to 83 months salary and pension arrears, it is ridiculous that the governor will take N700 million as monthly security vote.
This fund (that is unaccounted for) is N8.4 billion annually, N33.6 billion in his first four years in office and N67.2 billion at the expiration of his tenure in 2023.
Many pensioners have died unpaid. Recall that Ikpeazu said during the governorship debate that “payment of salaries should be taken for granted”.
WATCH: Ikpeazu says payment of salaries should be taken for granted
Unconfirmed reports alleged that several Abia “elders” are also on monthly stipends of N5 million, N2 million, N1 million and N500k.
Going by the number of prominent elders we have in Abia State, it is assumed that the state spends in the region of N50 million monthly, N600 million annually, N2.4 billion in four years and N4.8 billion by 2023.
When these funds are multiplied, they amount to a whooping sum of N88.32 billion; equivalent to $243.9 million wasted on trivialities and patronage politics (payment of royalties to godfathers).
Just imagine what a small Dubai Abia State would have become in 2023 if this amount is genuinely invested on infrastructure.
Abia would have had 10 dual-carriage flyovers scattered across the cities, a world-class stadium and at least 100-kilometer standard roads with walkways and streetlights by 2023.
The entire scenario is appalling when statistical data from BudgIT puts the growth rate of Abia State IGR at 17.51 per cent against a borrowing rate of 145.79 per cent.
As at March 31, 2019, Abia State’s domestic debt profile stood at N62.8 billion, while its external debt profile was $98.5 million on December 31, 2018.
This calls for a great concern because it means that the state is expanding external debt stocks at a faster rate than it is growing internally generated revenue.
Being that FAAC allocation backs such foreign debts, the short and medium term implication is that Abia State net FAAC allocation will fall. Federal government will deduct from it, monthly to service the loan. The low IGR growth means that Abia State will soon ask for another bailout.
The sad reality is that the state is currently on life support and needs short term loans (with high interest rates) from banks to hang on.
This precarious financial situation that also includes the debt of approximately N100 billion is startling when you consider that Ikpeazu’s government had received in the region of N300 billion in FAAC since the inception of his administration on May 29, 2015.
This figure is exclusive of IGR, Paris club refunds and bailout fund.
Still you cannot traverse Abia State and see where a single project that genuinely worth N5 billion is constructed.