Chinedu Okeke, a former government critic who abandoned his activism since his appointment as Deputy Chief of Staff to the governor of Abia State, has confirmed the purchase of cars amounting to billions by the state government for the personal aides of the governor despite rising poverty in the state.
He confirmed the development with a series of tweets, including one showing him riding in a pricey Innoson IVM G6T purchased using state funds.
Other beneficiaries of the largesse and state-funded posh lifestyle include a score of appointees recently appointed by Governor Alex Otti in a move that drew widespread criticism due to the excessively large number of the appointees.
Alex Otti pledged during his campaign to run a lean government and abolish the appointment of a litany of aides without portfolio, a pledge critics say he has now violated.
The governor’s media aide, Dodoh Okafor, confirmed that all ‘senior appointees’ holding positions similar to Chinedu Okeke, who doubles as a Senior Special Assistant, were handed the same SUVs purchased with funds sourced from the state treasury.
This is @Nedunaija the Deputy Chief of Staff/Senior Special Assistant on Youths and Sports Development to the Abia State Government arriving for work in his Innoson IVM G6T.
— Dodoh Okafor (@Eaglepostng) August 10, 2023
He gave the update while responding to criticism centred around Alex Otti’s alleged refusal to patronize a local car manufacturing brand, Innoson, in his recent splurge on cars for state purposes, including security patrol.
However, the rejoinder has drawn more criticism as residents of Abia state protested the decision to spend billions on luxurious cars for the governor’s personal aides at the same time the government struggles to pay salaries, pensions and other financial obligations of the state.
Alex Otti, whose emergence on the platform of the Labour Party remains a subject of legal dispute, has blamed his uninspiring start on the alleged ‘empty treasury’ he inherited from his predecessor. But residents are asking how he managed to afford billions in cars for his bloated army of aides when other state obligations impacting a larger section of the state population remain unmet.
Questions were also asked of Chinedu Okeke whose former status as a loud government critic makes his recent transformation and defence of government excesses, particularly alleged misappropriation of public funds, a jarring development for many.