Governor Alex Otti of Abia State raised the expenditure of “Refreshments and Meals” to N223,389,889.84 from the N8,460,000 spent by his predecessor, Okezie Ikpeazu in the first quarter of 2023, further checks by SaharaReporters at the state budget performance report on Tuesday revealed.
SaharaReporters observed that Otti’s N223million expenditure was over 1000% of what was spent at the First quarter (Q1- January-March 2023) during the past administration.
Governor Otti was sworn in on May 29, 2023, having won the election under the platform of the Labour Party (LP).
Although after Otti came into office, the fuel subsidy was removed by the President Bola Tinubu’s administration, plunging the country into hardship, inflation and rising costs of food prices, the percentage increase in the budgets by the previous and current administrations in Abia was huge.
The budget performance report noted that while Ikpeazu spent N8,460,000.00 on “Refreshment and meals” between January and March, 2023, the new governor expended NN223,389,889.84 on same from July till September.
On honorarium and allowances for government officials, no amount was recorded in the first quarter for the last administration, while the Abia government claimed it spent N305,400,000 in the third quarter.
The document further revealed that Ikpeazu-led government spent N72,444,500 on welfare packages within three months, while his successor, Otti spent N397,520,734 between July and September.
SaharaReporters had on Monday reported that Otti spent the total amount of N927million within three months on refreshment/meals, settlement of honorarium, allowances and welfare packages.
The report titled “Abia State Third Quarter (July – September) 2023 Budget Performance” had also been posted on the state government’s website. (https://abiastate.gov.ng/abia-state-3rd-quarter-2023-budget-performance-report-2/).
In the report, the Otti-led government spent N223,389,889.84 on refreshment/meals, while N305,400,000.00 was spent on honorarium and sitting allowance for government officials within July and September, 2023.The government also claimed it spent N397,520,734.00 on welfare packages.
However, Otti in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Kazie Uko had said the figure was for the entire state and not for the Office of the Governor.
“The total amount spent so far by the entire government of Abia State for Refreshments and Meals for the period is N223,389,889.84,” the statement had read.
“The figure above is as captured in all the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government.
“Please, NOTE that this figure is for the entire state and not for the Office of the Governor, as being erroneously portrayed. The stated figure covers expenses for special events, such as retreats, conferences, and related events.
“For welfare, the Abia State Government has so far spent the sum of N397,520,734.84. The Welfare expenditure is in line with the State Fiscal, Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability Programme (SFTAS); an initiative of the Federal Government.”