Group urges Otti to make his assets and investments public

A group focusing on human, environmental rights and anti-corruption, Foundation for Environmental Rights Advocacy and Development(FENRAD), has called on Governor Alex Otti of Abia State to start with a clean slate by promptly making public details of his assets, income, in­vestments, liabilities, and inter­ests and to encourage his cabinet when formed to do the same.

Assets declaration is a mandatory requirement for all persons taking public office to declare their assets with the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), was designed as an effective tool for checking corruption.

Otti was on Monday May 29 inaugurated as the new governor of Abia State.

In a statement issued on Monday by Comrade Nelson Nnanna Nwafor, 

Executive director and Barr. Femisi Akande, Head Legal Team & Litigation, FENRAD also said the call was guided by the policy of financial inclusion and discipline, adding that the assets had to be declared for transparency & Accountabliity.

It noted that prior to the March 18 gubernatorial election in Abia State, it had demanded that all gubernatorial candidates (from all the 18 political parties) make financial disclosure of their assets – asset declaration, but unfortunately, nothing of the sort happened.

The group however stated that now was the suitable time for Governor Otti to make his assets public, as stipulated in the Fifth Schedule of the 1999 Constitution, as amended. 

The statement read in part: “Abians, no doubt, have broken their unwritten contract with the PDP, a severance that took 24 years – a generation – to happen (pending what the courts award as judgement). 

“While a majority rejoice, FENRAD, aware of the task ahead and therefore not in any celebratory mood, calls on the incoming governor, Dr. Alex Otti, to disclose his assets and also mandate his cabinet (when finally constituted) to follow in the same direction. 

“We raise the above concern aware of the magnitude and unheard-of size of Abia debt stock – currently at ₦144,000,000,000.00 (one hundred and forty-four billion naira) as at the last quarter (Q4) of 2022. This is not a healthy outlook, given that past experiences show lack of commitment and financial discipline among former state executives, some of whom are currently have a case (pending) before the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. 

“Like stated in our earlier release on the same subject matter, Abia has fallen on hard times, and cannot continue in this direction. Budgetary performance is low as arrears of salary and pension and gratuity stare the state in the face, meaning that it is mandatory for the incoming administration to commit to the delivering on all fronts of campaign promises. 

“Unemployment in Abia is at all-time high by 50.07%, next to Imo State. Purchasing power decline is also biting and hitting hard with household finances shrinking. As a result, over 5 million Abians are poor, according to National Bureau of Statistics, NBS. This is not time for jamboree and endless propaganda, but one for work. 

“A state with financial fate like Abia, with burdensome debt and non-performing budgets needs recalibrating. This and lots more are all the challenges facing Dr. Alex Otti as the tenth governor of Abia, God’s own state. 

“Guided by the policy of financial inclusion and discipline, FENRAD calls on Dr. Alex Otti to make public his assets, including those of his wife and children below the age of 18 as enshrined in our constitution.

“By this release too, we call on Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, PhD to also disclose his assets as an outgoing governor including funds left in the various Government Accounts both local and international.

“FENRAD will be following and will stop at nothing to see that financial discipline is established in fiscal policies of the state including engaging the code of conduct (CCB) to ensure compliance”.

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