Governor Otti deliberately misleading the public, Ikpeazu left N3.48Billion net credit balance – Kalu

A former Commissioner for Information in Abia State, Chief John Okiyi-Kalu, has said the Abia Financial review report done by Klynveld Peat Marwick Goerdeler (KPMG), a multinational professional services network that provides audit, advisory, tax and legal services confirmed that former Governor Okezie Ikpeazu left a net credit balance of N3.48 billion for Governor Alex Otti.

Governor Otti had accused his predecessor, Ikpeazu of diverting N10 billion, which was earmarked for the construction of an airport in the state.

The governor promised to make public the forensic audit report which indicted Ikpeazu of diverting billions of state funds meant for projects to individual company accounts.

He also said the immediate past administration transferred the N10 billion airport funds into 32 different company accounts before it was shared, adding that the money had already been transferred out of the state government account before they approached the Abia State House of Assembly for approval.

The governor was offered clarifications on the auditing during his monthly media chat, tagged “Governor Alex Otti Speaks to Abians” held at Government House Umuahia on Thursday

But reacting to the report, Okiyi-Kalu explained that contrary to the “negative agenda” of the current government against Ikpeazu, he left more for Otti. The former commissioner said the cash in the bank is different from other near-cash assets, such as a 3.5% share in Aba Independent Power Project (IPP) Geometric which is now valued at N80 billion, among others.

He further explained that even the net credit balance of N3.48 billion is enough to pay workers’ salaries for two months in Abia State and asked why a man who left such an amount of money should constantly be demonised by the incumbent governor of the state.

The former commissioner further revealed that they discovered that KPMG only executed a financial process review, while Governor Otti told the world that he had a “forensic audit report done by one of the top three audit firms in the world” with him.

Okiyi-Kalu said that given that one should at least expect a former managing director of a bank to know the difference between a process review report and a forensic audit report, he can only say that Otti lied deliberately to mislead the public.

He expressed sadness that some of the people cheering Otti do not know the difference between an audit and a process review. He advised those confused to do proper research to know the difference.

“How much did Governor Alex Otti pay KPMG? Abians deserve to know because we are already paying a state-owned audit unit that would have done a far better job.

“So far, Otti’s government has spent N9 billion on a subhead called “research & development”. What is he researching and developing in Abia State? Check quarterly financial reports published by his administration, if in doubt,” he said.

He urged the public not to “trust anything said by Governor Otti,” saying he “misrepresents facts too frequently to be taken seriously”.

He said, “Did you notice that after I responded to his allegation of missing N10b with details of road contractors paid from the money, he said, ‘The money was moved into 32 different accounts’ instead of the money being paid into 32 road contractors’ accounts?”

He said that he was grateful to whoever forced Otti to leak the KPMG report, stressing that at face value, the report exonerates Ikpeazu of any wrongdoing and highlights the leadership shortcomings of Otti.

He said, “A governor does not award contracts in Abia State and a governor does not sign cheques. It is the Finance & General Purpose Committee (F & GPC) that reviews tenders, recommend companies for the award of contracts and passes the same to State Exco for approval.

“Similarly, only the top officials of the Ministry of Finance sign State Government Cheques and at the level of ministries it is the Permanent Secretary and Director of Finance.

“As a Commissioner in Abia State for six years I never signed any government or ministry cheque because it is not within my remit. Where then is the evidence of Dr Ikpeazu stealing N10bn meant for Abia Airport.”

Okiyi-Kalu went further to call on all those who need a copy of the process review report to contact him, assuring that he will send it to them if he believes they are capable of understanding such reports.