Sunday, 3rd December 2023

Abia PDP slams Governor Otti, demands apology for ‘clashing’ with Anglican Church

By Guardian Nigeria
18 September 2023   |   3:41 am
The Abia state chapter of the People's Democratic Party (PDP) has described as 'improper, unwarranted and unacceptable' what it described as an attack by the state governor on the leadership of the Anglican Church of Aba Diocese. The opposition party was reacting to the Alex Otti administration's response to the Church advice contained in a…

Governor Alex Otti

The Abia state chapter of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has described as ‘improper, unwarranted and unacceptable’ what it described as an attack by the state governor on the leadership of the Anglican Church of Aba Diocese.

The opposition party was reacting to the Alex Otti administration’s response to the Church advice contained in a communiqué issued after its 17th Synod which advised it to fix the economic roads in Aba and desist from sacking civil servants employed in the State civil service.

The Aba Diocese of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, waded into the contentious sacking of workers by the Abia State Government, and urged Governor Otti to reverse the policy.

Thousands of workers, comprising those employed at the end of the PDP-led past administration of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu and those considered to be drawing salary as “ghost workers” were “cleaned out” from the government payroll.

But the Church, rising from the Third Session of its 17th Synod, said sacking of civil servants “worsens the hardship in the society and fuels all vices associated with unemployment.”

The Church, in the communiqué signed by the Bishop of Aba Diocese, Rev. Christian Ugwuzo, and the Clerical Synod Secretary, Venerable Innocent Ogbonna, made it clear that it was not in support of the last minute mass employment carried out by the Ikpeazu administration, but noted that sacking workers would not right the wrong already done. It thereafter counseled Otti to retrace his steps and allow the affected workers to keep their jobs.

The Abia State government, however, alleged that one of the signatories to the communiqué was executing a personal vendetta against Otti for not excluding the priest’s daughter from the names of civil servants that were recently disengaged, adding that the priest had before the Synod, also brought two other proposals to the governor which were all turned down.

The state government, nevertheless, added that the Otti-led administration would still create genuine employment opportunities for Abia resident in the future after “cleaning up the state’s civil service”, insisting that no genuinely employed worker was sacked by Otti.

The Abia PDP has, however, taken a different stance and has called on the Otti-led government to tender a public apology to the Synod and congregation of the Anglican Diocese of Aba for calling to question the integrity of their Bishops.

In a statement signed by the PDP Vice Chairman/Acting State Publicity Secretary, Hon. Elder Abraham Amah, the party said the response of the Labour Party government is an insult to the Church.

“The Abia PDP has read with utter disappointment the response of the Alex Otti administration to a simple, honest and genuine advice from the Synod of the Anglican Church of Aba Diocese contained in a communiqué it issued after its 17th Synod which advised it to fix the economic roads in Aba and desist from sacking civil servants employed in the State civil service,” read the statememt.

“Without needing the services of magicians, is it difficult for anyone to know that more than 10,000 civil servants have been sacked in Abia State or that the major roads that deserve attention to spur economic activities in Aba notably, Port Harcourt, Ohanku, Obohia and other roads in Aba and its environs have not been given attention, especially as he made a cheap political capital out of this when he hurriedly went on inspection of these roads with construction giant, Julius Beger, immediately he was declared governor-elect. Have those roads been fixed or have they suddenly become unimportant?

“It is strange that Alex Otti would be the one accusing the past administration of not following laid down procedures in the conduct of government business when he is culpable of the offence and to a higher degree. Alex Otti did not follow due process in many things he has done in Abia State since he assumed office and has flouted all the extant rules of the civil service, and many others.

“First, he suspended all the Permanent Secretaries on the day he assumed office and after more than 100 days has not issued any queries, has not paid them salaries as required by civil service rules and went ahead to distort the hierarchical structure by placing subordinates over their superiors. Is that due process?

“Secondly, he placed the Abia State House of Assembly under his thumb by making sure that he used his executive powers to install his minority Labour Party as the majority which produced all the Principal Officers of the House. Is that democratic?

“The same Alex Otti has awarded road contracts without following the provisions of the Abia Public Procurement Act, as no prequalifications, advertisements, public bids were made for those roads and till today, Abians do not know the cost of those roads. Is that not illegal and actionable?

“Last week, Alex Otti informed Abians that about 4700 pensioners have been enrolled into a free medical scheme in primary and secondary health facilities in the State without giving the name and physical address of the Health Maintenance Organization, HMO that is in charge of the scheme and how it emerged the winner in the selection process. Is that transparent and accountable?”

Amah said the Church is the moral conscience of society and it is its duty to speak truth to power.

“For the eight years of the Okezie Ikpeazu administration, the leaders of the Church held him firmly to account and on several occasions commended him as well as knocked him in areas they felt he did not do right but there was never this type of hostile response.

“The Abia PDP feels embarrassed that the hallowed office of the governor which represents the lofty ideals and aspirations of the good people of Abia State has been reduced to a disorganised motor park office where the Chairman barks orders to his subordinates without checks by any officer.”