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Video: Abia govt to use AI, security agencies to ‘locate’ non-existent airport that gulped N10b

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A forensic audit conducted by an audit firm has revealed how the immediate past government of Abia State approved funds to contractors for the construction of non-existent state-owned airport and other infrastructure.

The Abia State Governor, Dr Alex Otti made the revelation during a presentation at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, Washington DC, United States.

He spoke on the theme, ‘Dynamics of State Governance, Economic Transition and the Challenges of Seeking to Establish a New Order Amidst Multiple Constraints and Pushbacks.’

Otti said it is difficult to admit how some Nigerian leaders contest elections for reasons shrouded in corruption.

The governor, who took over from Okezie Ikpeazu in 2023, explained that some politicians have abused the privilege of governance thereby impoverishing their states.

He disclosed how he engaged a top audit firm to examine the state accounts, adding that the auditor uncovered several deals that are shrouded in corruption.

He said, “Talking about corruption, I set up a forensic audit as soon as I took over last year in Abia so that there won’t be any argument, I called in one of the top three audit firms in the world and not too long ago, they sent in their report and some of the things in the report are frightening.

“So, N9.3bn was paid to seven contractors for contracts that were not executed at all up till today. Another N15.9bn- almost N16bn was paid to 63 contractors with no supporting documents anywhere in the State.

“Another N12bn was paid to two contractors for contracts that did not exist. Out of this figure, N10bn was on September 25, 2020- that is almost four years, paid to some contractors for the construction of Abia State Airport.

“We have spent time trying to locate the airport and up till now, we have failed.”

Otti told his audience that one of his aides advised him to seek Artificial Intelligence (AI) in search of the airport.

“So, as we continue to look for our airport, we have also involved security agencies to help us search.”

Otti explained that the N37.2bn spent on ghost projects is what happens when politicians fail to understand the role of governance and economic integration.

According to Otti, a lack of accountability enables “mindless stealing of resources from the people,”. The governor lamented how impoverishing the populace promotes incompetence and damages trust in public institutions.

He said the evidence of the lack of ingenuity of politicians is how Nigerian states struggle to pay salaries and pensions.

Earlier in April 2024, Otti lamented that the state was plunged into debt of N192bn by his predecessor, Ikpeazu. He further revealed how his predecessor also inherited N34.5bn debt from T.A. Orji.

● Report and Photo by The Whistler.ng

● Video: Social Media

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