N10m Monthly Entitlement: Former Abia Finance Commissioner Challenges Akpara’s Misleading Claims, Affirms Pro Bono Service and Cost-Cutting Measures | #NwokeukwuMascot


Former Abia Finance Commissioner Challenges Current Officeholder's Claims of N10 Million Monthly Salary | #NwokeukwuMascot

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Obinna Oriaku, the former Commissioner for Finance in Abia State, has strongly contested recent statements made by Governor Alex Otti’s Finance Commissioner, Mike Akpara, regarding monthly earnings. In a detailed response to Akpara's assertions during an interview on Love FM Umuahia, Oriaku emphasized discrepancies and historical inaccuracies, aiming to clarify the public discourse.

Recall that Akpara, the current Commissioner for Finance, had defended his monthly emolument of N10 million, suggesting it was consistent with past practices of the office. However, Oriaku, who served from June 2015 to June 2019, pointedly refuted this claim. He clarified that he served pro bono throughout his tenure, with his salary being paid by First Bank Ltd., his employer before his appointment.

"I was on secondment from First Bank Ltd., which continued to pay my monthly salary while I served as Commissioner," Oriaku stated, highlighting his commitment to public service without financial remuneration from the state government.

Furthermore, Oriaku detailed significant cost-cutting measures he implemented upon assuming office, including slashing the cost of monthly FAAC meetings in Abuja from N1.6 million to N500,000 over four years. These actions which he said were part of a broader strategy of fiscal responsibility during a period marked by economic challenges.

In the statement titled, "Hon. Mike Akpara, Abia Finance Commissioners, and the Issue of the N10 Million Monthly Entitlements: Setting the Record Straight," Oriaku clarified that, contrary to Akpara's assertion, commissioner salaries remained at N196,000 during his tenure. Additionally, the Exco allowance was reduced from N1 million to N500,000 in response to economic realities such as the recession.

Oriaku also challenged Akpara to review official records from his time in office, asserting that no evidence would support the current commissioner's claims of historical precedent for such high remuneration. He partly said, "No such claims of a N10 million monthly salary existed during my tenure," Oriaku emphasized. "I invite Mr. Akpara to verify this by examining the office records."

The former commissioner expressed concern over the implications of justifying excessive entitlements based on past practices, cautioning against generalizations that could undermine public trust. He urged for transparency and accountability in public office, stressing the importance of accurate representation and responsible governance.

Obinna Oriaku’s statement in full, “Since my tenure as Commissioner of Finance ended, I have developed a habit of closely monitoring interviews with state officials whenever time permits, albeit at the expense of my other commitments.

“This I do, either directly or indirectly for two reasons: To follow up with the developments in governance in a State I am a stakeholder in. To review engagement as to ensure I am not in any way implicated for what should ordinarily not have my name anywhere miles around such conversations. 

“The above reasons suffices in explaining how the interview session with Mr. Mike Akpara, the current Commissioner For Finance,   hosted by Love FM Umuahia on 4th July 2024 became of interest to me. 

“As much as I commend the Honorable Commissioner for coming on air to provide answers to  some questions bordering on salaries, Pension and the humongous entitlements of his office, I however wish to place on record without fear of contradiction that his receipt of 10million naira monthly entitlement is in line with past traditions in the office of Finance commissioners, is to all intents and purposes, misleading as I Obinna Oriaku who served between June 2015 to June 2019 is an exception and the reasons are self evident. 

“I offered Pro Bono Service to Abia State: What that means was that throughout my four years in office as an appointee of the government, I did not receive a salary from the Abia State government. I was on secondment from First Bank Ltd., which continued to pay my monthly salary while I served as Commissioner. I was the mastermind of Cost Reduction Measures akin to that era. 

“Upon assumption of office, in line with our philosophy of disruptive change, I reduced the cost of attending monthly FAAC meetings in Abuja from N1.6 million to N500,000 over four years. Note, the disruption was not only for my office then but across board including monthly salary of the Governor that was reduced by 50%

“Commissioner's Salaries: The salary for commissioners remained at N196,000 until 2023. Additionally, the executive council (Exco) allowance was reduced from N1 million to N500,000, reflecting the economic realities of the recession at the time. 

“This Exco allowance albeit irregular, was sustained even till I left in June 2019. It is therefore preposterous and absolutely misleading, to make a  claim, that his N10 million monthly  salary is in line with the tradition he inherited from past  Commissioners of Finance.

“From such a claim I completely exonerate myself and state unequivocally that I was not part of it. I would go further by  imploring him to call up files relating to payments made during my stay in that office  to verify my claims. 

“I can assure Mr Akpara that his investigations will reveal that there was no such claims. In addition, no monthly overhead was approved for my office; Expenses on my driver and police escort's, entertainment of visitors, and the fueling and maintenance of my car were personally borne by me.

“It is therefore both unconscionable and provocative to justify the current N10 million per month even with an intention for a review, when night and traveling allowances for top civil servants in Abia state and salary have remained what it has been for the past years regardless of attendant inflationary trends.

“While I sympathize with the current administration for their peculiar economic challenges, I urge Mr. Akpara to desist from the culture of generalisation, that seeks to paint all past commissioners with the same brush, as he might inadvertently burn his fingers irredeemably by doing such. 

Mike Akpara | Obinna Oriaku

“For whoever cares to know, the administration of  former Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, particularly from 2015 to 2017, was populated with selfless individuals who served sacrificially to reposition the state.

“Lastly, it's essential and advisable to maintain transparency and integrity in public office in order  to earn and retain the trust of the people. Misrepresenting the past for pecuniary reasons will  only deepen mistrust and hinder progress towards a more equitable and just governance. Again, what is "new" in the acclaimed ' New Abia' if we constantly imitate  the "old" ways inappropriate actions and inactions.” Obinna Oriaku concluded.

This response by Oriaku provides a critical perspective on ongoing debates regarding public finances and governance in Abia State, challenging assertions that could potentially mislead the public and distort historical facts.


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