Just less than three weeks to the end of his eight-year leadership of Abia, the state governor, Okezie Ikpeazu and his predecessor, and now Senator representing Abia Central at the National Assembly are looking at each other ‘eyeball to eyeball’.
In a press statement today, the Abia State Liaison Officer for Sen. Theodore Ahamefule Orji, Ifeanyi Umere titled “Ikpeazu should carry his cross”, noted, “It’s unfortunate that I am forced to comment and refute the half-truths being dished out by those who through their own bad choices have found themselves in a quagmire.
“For the avoidance of any doubt, neither myself nor my administration is responsible for the staggering salary arrears owed both civil servants, parastatals and pensioners in the state.
“Before my administration came to an end on May 29, 2015, core civil servants were not owed even one-month salary arrears. Parastatals were the ones that were owed between two and four months. The records are there.
“At any rate, the arrears were necessitated by the dwindling federal allocation occasioned by the worsening global economy. The price of crude had crashed and the states were getting a paltry two to three billion naira monthly which was not even enough to run the state including capital and recurrent expenditures.
“Those who took over from us inherited both assets and liabilities. In this case, government is a continuum. So, if we were owing two to three months, we expected our successors to clear them. This expectation was based on the fact that they received bail-out funds from the federal government more than three times running into billions of naira. Again the economy had picked up considerably enabling the outgoing government to chalk up considerable income as can be confirmed by the Ministry of Finance.
“So why was it difficult for them to offset the debts? Again if for any reason they couldn’t or were unwilling to offset,why did they allow it to skyrocket to between 35 and 40 months? Why are they also owing core civil servants? So basically, I am not the problem. They should carry their cross”.
However, In a late evening press release, the outgoing Abia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu said, he will not join issues with his predecessors.
According to his Chief Press Secretary, Sir Onyebuchi Ememanka “The attention of the Governor of Abia State, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu has been drawn to a statement credited to Senator T.A.Orji, the immediate past Governor of Abia State.
“Governor Ikpeazu wishes to state that he is proudly carrying the cross of the governance of Abia State and will continue to carry it till his last day in office.
“Secondly, and as a personal policy, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu will not join issues with any of his predecessors in office. For the almost 8 years he has held office as Governor, he has not engaged any of his predecessors in any kind of untoward exchange, even when it seemed politically expedient to do so. This policy is largely responsible for the sociopolitical stability we have enjoyed in Abia State since 2015. The Governor intends to sustain this personal policy going forward.
“Finally, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu is of the firm view that as in all matters, history and posterity will, over time, put all things in proper perspective”.
Sen. Orji was instrumental in Ikpeazu becoming the state governor for eight years now.
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