Abia State Governor, Alex Otti, has clarified the issue of the proposed procurement of two Toyota Hilux vehicles at the cost of N1.5 billion in the state annual budget.
Overtnews last weekend exclusively reported how Otti’s administration budgeted the amount for the purchase of two vehicles.
Another N721 million was also budgeted and approved by the state assembly for the “Purchase of 2 No of Nissan Trucks for Government House”.
Otti while reacting to a question on the report that his government had voted N1.5 billion to purchase two units of Toyota Hilux vehicles in the 2024 budget, attributed the controversial figure to a software glitch generated by the Excel package used in preparing the budget document.
The governor was saying: “When I saw that report, I knew something was wrong. I knew it could either be the units or the price.
“So, I called the Commissioner for Budget and Planning and asked him to check it out and call me back. He did and reported that it was neither the units nor the price that was wrong but the Excel.
“If you use Excel and the formula is not very right on a particular line, you are bound to have a problem like that. It’s a mistake that has been corrected.
“When the news of the bloated figure got to me, I immediately had to cross-check the budget numbers and found that the N1.5 billion was not translated to the total budget figure.
“In statistics and even in accounting, there is what is referred to as the materiality concept, and that talks to the significance of a number to influence the outcome.
“So if you check N1.5 billion against N487 billion budget, that translates to about 0.3%, less than half percent of the total figure, and I believe that it is not that significant in determining the outcome. So even if the wrong number was carried down to the total, it wouldn’t have been material.
“But suffice it to say that anything that comes from government must be correct. It is an error, and it has been corrected. I must thank the people who pointed out the error. It means that people are vigilant; people are checking and I encourage people to check and hold the government to account.
“I don’t think there’s anything to worry about. The overall numbers are correct and the figure of N1.5 billion was actually N150 million; two units of Hilux vans at N75 million each will give you N150 million, that’s the correct number.”
The governor, however, did not clear the air on another N721 million budgeted and approved by the state assembly for the “Purchase of 2 No of Nissan Trucks for Government House”.
In 2023, Overtnews 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 three months.
The report, however, showed that only N25 million was spent by the government on the repair of public schools in the state even though 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 amid the government’s negligence.
Several school buildings are reportedly dilapidated with leaky roofs, broken furniture, doors and windows.