The allegations followed the state government’s release of its budget performance.
The Abia State Government has denied reports that the state governor, Alex Otti, spent about N1 billion on feeding and welfare packages for the governor’s office from July to September 2023.
There have been reports in the media alleging that the state government spent N927 million on refreshments/meals, honorarium/sitting allowances, and welfare packages for the governor’s office within three months.
This followed the release of the Abia State Third Quarter (July – September) 2023 Budget Performance Report which was published on the website of the state government.
Abia govt reacts
But in a statement jointly issued on Monday by the governor’s spokesperson, Kazie Uko and the governor’s media aide, Ferdinand Ekeoma, the state government described the reports as “distorted.”
It said the total amount spent so far by the governor for refreshments and meals for the period was N223, 389, 889.84, and added that the figure circulating online includes the expenditure on refreshments from all the ministries, departments and agencies of the government.
“The stated figure covers expenses for special events, such as retreats, conferences, and related events,” the statement said.
On the welfare packages, the government said it had so far spent the sum of N397,520,734.84, explaining that the expenditure was in line with the State Fiscal, Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability Programme, an initiative of the federal government.
“Expenses under welfare deal with issues of health, rehabilitation and public emergencies,” the statement added.
The government claimed the amount covered what was spent in the state and not only for the governor’s office, contrary to the reports in the media.
What the budget performance report said
Meanwhile, PREMIUM TIMES checked the Abia State 2023 budget performance and found that the amount which the government indicated in the statement that it spent on meals and welfare packages corresponded with the figures in the budget report.
This means that the state government spent a total of N620,910,625 on meals and welfare packages within the period under review.
However, the figure when added to N305,400,000, being the amount spent on honorarium/sitting allowances, totalled N926,310,625 spent by the government within three months.
However, the budget report did not indicate if the total amount covered the expenditure on the governor’s office or across ministries, departments and agencies of the government.