A group known as Abia Renaissance Movement (ARM) has raised the alarm over purported attempts by officials of the Abia State governor, Dr Alex Otti, to divert palliatives allocated to the state by the Federal Government.
The group in a statement released on Friday signed by its Convener, Comrade Ukachukwu Chinonso and Secretary-General, Comrade Mrs Maria Nwokoma, claimed that residents of the state are beginning to worry over the delay in the distribution of the palliatives to them, adding that any attempt to hoard or divert the materials will not be tolerated.
Recall that the federal government recently announced the disbursement of N5 billion and an additional five truck-loads of rice to each state of the federation for immediate distribution to the people, especially the vulnerable to cushion the effect of the fuel subsidy removal on them.
Governor of Borno State, Prof Babagana Zulum, had announced the decision of the National Economic Council meeting chaired by the Vice President, Kashim Shettima, last week, to the effect that the agreed purpose for the disbursement of N5 billion to each state of the federation is strictly to address food shortage in the interim and therefore each state is expected to use the fund to procure 100,000 bags of rice, 40,000 bags of maize and fertilizer to be shared to the citizens. The states were also required to get an accurate and acceptable social register to be used for the cash transfer of the $800 million World Bank loan to vulnerable people in states.
ARM in its statement accused Otti’s government of being reluctant to “announce a clear subsidy palliatives plan for the people,” and said that “such delay might not be unconnected to allegations which are now rife in the state that Alex Otti’s henchmen are planning to hoard and divert the palliative cash and materials meant for the people.
“We wish to state categorically clear that such acts will not be tolerated by Abians. We are ready to mobilise the people against such acts if the state government does not do the needful in the next few days.
“We are shocked that while other states have since commenced the palliative distribution exercise to their people, our own government in Abia is still toying with her citizens and even making life harder by denying people their salaries under one guise or the other.
“We view this action by Alex Otti as a deliberate ploy to discredit the Presidency and drag it into disrepute before the people.
“Our people are hungry and dying. It is unconscionable for anyone to try to play politics with what has been sent to them to alleviate their hardship. We shall not tolerate such act of wickedness any longer and we shall resist any further attempt to shortchange our people by officials who have shown by their speeches, body language and actions in the last three months that their purpose of being in government is for the primitive accumulation of our commonwealth. Not even their media propaganda that they have commenced distribution of the items when no single person in the state has received anything of such will save them from being exposed”, the statement said.
The group further accused Otti of veering off from his campaign promises to the people saying: “the policy somersaults, abandonment of campaign promises to the people, a lack of transparency in government dealings and destructive propaganda that have become attributes of Mr Alex Otti’s administration have caused palpable fears among the people that the Abia State share of the Federal Government palliatives to states to cushion the effects of fuel subsidy removal on the people may be diverted by state government officials who have developed an unrestrained knack for subjecting the people to extreme hardship due to harsh policies of the Alex Otti government.”