Collapse Of Abia Govt Imminent, Alcohol Abuse, Easy Women, Gov Wife Goes Reckless
The campaigns for the general elections of 2019 appear steaming and ready to hit the streets. This is as the various States and legislative assemblies find themselves preoccupied with the business of preparing for the elections – in particular, the south east state of Abia under the administration of Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu appear up and ready to line up at the polls. However reports available to 247ureports.com indicates the government maybe grappling with weighty issues that threatens to collapse the government, if immediate corrective actions are not taken.
On the first level are the symptoms of undue and/or unexplained financial strain on the Abia government that has lingered beyond the period of recession when majority of the State governments in Nigeria owed salaries to government workers and contractors.
The Abia State government have continued to owe its workers long after the numerous bail outs received from the federal government estimated in excess of N30billion have been expended.
The Ikpeazu administration presently owes the local government area [LGA] workers 4 months of backlog salaries, the elementary school teachers a backlog of 3 months, Abia State Hospital Management Board is owed 10 months, Abia State University Teaching Hospital is owed 10 months, Abia State Poly is owed 11 months. This is after receiving the supposed N30billion supposedly earmarked for payment workers salaries.
Recently, the wife of the Governor had to dishonorably disengage over 100 widows after having owed them over 12months of wages. Mrs. Ikpeazu employed the widows from Umuobikwa community as street sweepers to sweep the road leading to the Abia State Government house. After employing the widows, she facilitated for the payment of one month salary. And then stopped. The widow continued to work for 12 more months without payment. When the situation became unbearable, the widows began complaining aloud to the hearing of media men and women – which led to a publication in the Vanguard Newspapers of August 30, 2018 that revealed the treatment meted to the widows by the State government and the wife of the Governor.
The Vanguard publication angered the Ikpeazu administration. According to our source, it brought tears to the eyes of Mrs. Ikpeazu. She reacted to quickly assemble the widows and expressed her anger – impressing on them her displeasure for their going public about the money owed them. The Governor’s wife quickly organized for the widows to be paid one month out of the 12 months owed. She then disengaged them.
Mrs. Ikpeazu’s exercise of recklessness stretches beyond the widows of Umuobikwa community.
According to our investigation, she engages and continues to engage in illegally employing qualified and unqualified persons to the Abia State Hospital Management Board – causing over staffing – and further exacerbating the already weighty wage bill which the Ikpeazu administration has showed inability to offset. The governor has played deaf ears to the numerous complaints levied by the Board managers.
Away from the inability to continue to offset its wage bill, the Abia government has stopped maintaining virtually all its infrastructural projects, particularly road projects.
A source at the government house revealed that the government has run out of money and could no longer pay its bill. “Contractors have abandoned site”, said the source who pointed to abandoned work in Aba at Faulk road, drainage work at Aba-Owerri road has been abandoned for over 3years, Ururuka road that leads to the Governor’s village at Umuobiakwa then to Umuahia has been abandoned for 3years after having destroyed shops and buildings in a bid to widen the road, Port Harcourt road which was flagged off by Governor of Ebonyi State [Umahi] on May 5, 2016, flyover at Osisioma Junction along Aba-Enugu-Port Harcourt expressway which was promised to be completed by the Abia Governor by December 2018 – this project remains less than 30%. The source added that the completed sections of the road works have since gone bad – within the span of less than 2years – and has in turn resulted to waterway blockages that have caused excessive and repeated flooding within the market places in Aba metropolis.
One of the areas that was adversely affected is Ngwa road market popularly known as the “Ahia Ohuru” where one of the abandoned projects caused a flooding which then resulted to the formation of a man made river/large pond at the Ngwa road market place. The river which has a color of red halted up to 80% of all market activities. It also stopped the waste disposal agencies from collecting the accumulated solid wastes. The refuse bins remained uncollected for six months until recently when the rains eased. During the period of the six months, the traders were required to pay their refuse disposal taxes regularly.
The symptoms of a collapsing financial structure within the Ikpeazu administration are abound. The popularly touted “Made In Aba” project championed by the Ikpeazu administration appear to have dwindled tremendously owing to unavailability of funds. The refurbishment of the small scale industrial area along Port Harcourt road has gone belly up and has been abandoned thus negatively affecting the bustling metallurgy and metal fabrication industries in the area. Ikpeazu administration had pledged to tap into the area to boost the “Made In Aba” project. But thus far the Ikpeazu administration has been unable to redeem the pledge.
The supposed N1.5billion shoe factory from China promised shortly after the arrival of the Ikpeazu administration has also gone up in smokes owing largely to the feared collapse of the financial stability of the Ikpeazu administration. The original intent was for the Chinese shoe manufacturer to invest N1.5billion to erect a shoe factory in Ukwa area of Abia State. The objective of the factory was to help train the indigenous shoe makers professionally by the Chinese manufacturer. According to our source, a portion of large had already been earmarked for the project.
Interestingly, while the state government strains to meet its financial obligations, the aides to the Governor appear living in opulence – purchasing new luxurious and expensive vehicles. The Chief Press Secretary to the Governor was able to erect a staggering duplex [estimated value of 100m] in Aba metropolis within months of becoming the Chief Press Secretary. He has also erected a similar structure in Umuahia of with same estimated value. He took in a brand new 4matic Mercedes Sports Utility Vehicle [estimated value of 18m]. Other aides to the governor, according to our source, have made similar luxurious purchases of vehicles and houses. They openly display the newly acquired wealth to the communities in Abia State regularly.
“Ikpeazu has lost control of his administration” lamented a source who is conversant with the goings on within the government house at Umuahia, the capital of Abia State. The source points to a ‘recklessness’ in the government house where loosened lifestyle has overtaken the normal serious activities of the government. “Women of easy virtue now frequent the government house every day from morning hours till late in the night” to meet with the Governor and his aides.
During the evening, the Governor according to the source would call on his aides “to come for them to go to the ‘Sanhedrin’” – an acronym he uses “when he wants to go for drinks with his boys”. Interestingly, when the Governor calls his boys for a trip to the Sanhedrin, over 7 to 10million is spent drinking ‘ridiculously’ expensive alcoholic beverages. The location of the Sanhedrin is situated inside the government house where the alcoholic beverages are brought in from select stores.
The Governor is known to have a long history for love of expensive alcoholic drinks dating back to his days at Abia State Environmental Protection Agency [ASEPA] when his daily routine including spending significant hours or days at local hotels – merriment. “He is a jolly jolly fellow. He takes his entertainment seriously”.
The source explains that the Governor essentially brought the “hotel lifestyle” with him to government house. “Every evening the Governor goes into a drinking binge with his aides” lamented the source who added that most of the Governor’s aide have learned to take advantage of the Governor’s altered state of mind by requesting for the governor to append his signature on shady projects and/or documents requiring his approval.
Our source sums that the drinking habit brought about the Governor’s reckless financial management of State funds. “Ikpeazu cannot say where our money have gone”. No doubt there is fear of an imminent collapse. The type witnessed in Anambra State during the Mbadinuju administration.
But the administration discounts the fears.
The Governor promised to clear all wage bills in two months – [December 2018]. The Chief Press Secretary indicated the Ikpeazu administration offset its financial responsibilities. According to him, the government will clear its wage bill in two months.
The Works Commissioner however was not forthcoming on the government’s inability to continue with any of its infrastructural projects. He rebuked our correspondent.