Governor Alex Otti’s administration in Abia State proposed to spend a total sum of N13 billion on the purchase of cars, vans, trucks and buses in 2024, a copy of the state’s 2024 approved budget seen by SaharaReporters has revealed.
Otti on December 28, 2023, assented to the 2024 Appropriation Bill of N567.2 billion.
The budget signing was done at the governor’s private residence in his country home at Nvosi in the Isiala Ngwa South Local Government Area of the state.
Otti in a speech at the event said the budget would stimulate the economy and boost the socio-economic development of Abia.
He said the budget had been designed to take Abia out of underdevelopment, secure its next level of development and promote economic stability in the state.
In the breakdown of the budget, N5,946,756,437 was budgeted for the purchase of motor vehicles, N2,704,980,600 for the purchase of vans, N949,000,000 for the purchase of trucks and N3,011,804,906 for the purchase of buses.
This is different from the N105,000,000 approved in the budget to be spent on motorcycles and bikes.
A further breakdown of the budget showed that N1.8 billion will be spent by the Governor’s Office to buy an unspecified number of motor vehicles. Another N412 million was also budgeted for the Governor’s Office to be spent on motor vans.
The Governor’s Office also budgeted N712 million for the purchase of two units of Nissan trucks and N1 billion to buy brand-new buses.
The budget further revealed how ministries, departments and agencies budgeted billions of naira for the same purpose.
Some of the vehicle brands mentioned in the budget to be bought include Toyota, Nissan and Innoson.
The amount was approved to be spent on new at a time when the state is borrowing to finance over 70 percent of the N567.2 billion budget for 2024
SaharaReporters had reported that the approved budget had a deficit of around N400 billion which the state said would be financed with local and external borrowings.
The state’s revenue for 2024 in the budget was estimated at N166 billion which will be generated through grants from multilateral organisations, Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), allocation from the Nigerian government and other income sources.
In 2023, SaharaReporters reported how Otti spent a whopping N927 million within three months on refreshments/meals, settlement of honorarium, allowances, and welfare packages for the eggheads.
About N737,922,661.25 was also spent to buy motor vehicles within this period. However, the quantity and the people the vehicles were bought for were never stated.
According to a copy of the state budget performance obtained by the newspaper, the governor spent N223,389,889.84 on refreshments/meals, while N305,400,000.00 was spent on honorarium and sitting allowance for government officials between July and September 2023.
The Otti-led government also claimed it spent N397,520,734.00 on welfare packages in the document.
Meanwhile, N362,804,050.00 was spent by the Abia government to purchase trucks and another N400,890,000.00 was used for the purchase of buses.
Also in the document, the government claimed that N252.4 million was used to run the Deputy Governor’s office for 3 months.
The report however showed that only N25 million was spent by the government on the repair of public schools in the state despite that many public primary and secondary schools in the state are in bad shape.
According to multiple reports online, most public secondary and primary school buildings and facilities across the 17 local government areas of the state have aged and decayed over the government’s negligence.
Several school buildings are reportedly dilapidated with leaking roofs, broken furniture, doors and windows.