Governor Alex Otti’s administration in Abia State proposed to spend a total sum of N13 billion on the purchase of cars, vans, trucks, and buses in 2024. A copy of the state’s 2024 approved budget, seen by SaharaReporters, has revealed that Otti assented to the N567.2 billion 2024 Appropriation Bill on December 28, 2023. The budget signing took place at the governor’s private residence in Nvosi, Isiala Ngwa South Local Government Area of the state.
In a speech at the event, Otti highlighted the budget’s goals of stimulating the economy, boosting socio-economic development in Abia, and addressing underdevelopment. The breakdown of the budget includes N5,946,756,437 for motor vehicles, N2,704,980,600 for vans, N949,000,000 for trucks, and N3,011,804,906 for buses. Notably, N105,000,000 was approved for motorcycles and bikes.
Further details revealed that the Governor’s Office allocated N1.8 billion for unspecified motor vehicles, N412 million for motor vans, N712 million for two units of Nissan trucks, and N1 billion for brand-new buses. Ministries, departments, and agencies also budgeted billions for the same purpose, featuring vehicle brands such as Toyota, Nissan, and Innoson.
The approved amount to be spent on new vehicles raises concerns, especially as the state plans to borrow over 70 percent of the N567.2 billion budget for 2024. SaharaReporters reported a deficit of around N400 billion, to be covered by local and external borrowings.
The state’s projected revenue for 2024 is estimated at N166 billion, sourced from grants, Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), allocation from the Nigerian government, and other income sources.
In 2023, Otti’s spending on refreshments/meals, honorarium, allowances, and welfare packages raised eyebrows, with N927 million spent within three months. About N737,922,661.25 was spent on motor vehicles during this period. The state budget performance report indicated spending on refreshments/meals (N223,389,889.84), honorarium/sitting allowance (N305,400,000.00), and welfare packages (N397,520,734.00).
Additionally, the government spent N362,804,050.00 on trucks and N400,890,000.00 on buses. The document claimed N252.4 million was used to run the Deputy Governor’s office for three months. However, only N25 million was allocated for public school repairs, despite reports of dilapidation across primary and secondary schools in the state due to government negligence.