March 1, 2024

Otti, Ikpeazu’s aides war over Abia’s 5% equity share in Geometric Power



Aides to Governor Alex Otti and his predecessor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu have taken to conventional and social media to attack one another over claims by the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Geometric Power Ltd, Osisioma, Aba, Prof. Barth Nnaji, that he was to receive payment on the proposed five per cent equity of the state government in Geometric Power Ltd.

Nnaji, a former Minister of Power, had during a news briefing at the headquarters of the company last weekend claimed that the out-gone government of Ikpeazu was yet to remit to the company, their part of financial commitment to the project.

Rising in defence of his boss, Mr. John Okiyi-Kalu, who served as both Commissioner for Information and Trade and Investment in the last administration, said: “I was at the Abia State Executive Council meeting chaired by the then governor, Dr. Ikpeazu, wherein approval was given to Abia State Ministry of Finance to invest $5 million in Geometric Power Company as payment for five percent equity contribution on behalf of Ndi Abia.

“As at the time the investment was authorised, Abia State Government insisted on paying the naira equivalent, using the prevailing official exchange rate of N395/$ as agreed with the management of the company.

“According to information available to me, the state government was expected to pay N1,975,000,000.00 to the company as the equivalent of $ 5 million for five per cent equity in the project.”

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But in what appeared as an attempt to set the records straight, Special Adviser to Governor Otti on Media, Mr. Ferdinand Ekeoma, addressing reporters in Umuahia, at the end of the state’s Executive Council (SEC) meeting at the Government House Press Unit, said contrary to the claims by aides to the Ikpeazu-led government, the Otti-led administration did not receive any document during the transition process, indicating that the state committed any amount of cash to the Geometric Power project, which was inaugurated by Vice-President Kashim Shettima on behalf of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

He said: “As correctly reported in the attached budget performance report, I am aware that the state government under the leadership of Dr. Ikpeazu transferred N1.42 billion to the bank account of Geometric (possibly Stanbic IBTC account) and it was acknowledged by no less a person than Prof Nnaji in his capacity as ‘Chairman/CEO’ of the company via an official letter dated 24th August 2022.

“In that same acknowledgment letter that I was aware of at the time, Prof Nnaji requested the payment of the balance of N565 million to complete the agreed total of N1.975 billion, representing a $ 5 million investment. 

“Among other things, in that acknowledgment letter, which was addressed to Governor Ikpeazu by Prof Nnaji, he appreciated the efforts of the governor and the support rendered to Geometric Power in ensuring that the Aba IPP project is completed. 

“Nnaji was not only speaking to the equity investment but also the focused and unflinching promotion of the company before international investors in Africa, including AfDB and AFREXIM Bank that later gave a facility to the company with which they completed the project as well as the amicable resolution of the long-standing imbroglio with EEDC.

“I am not aware of whether or not the balance of N565 million was paid to the company, but I guess the Commissioner for Finance and/or the Accountant General of the state at that time would know. I am certain of the payment of N1.42 billion out of the N1.975billion from the state account.

“As a citizen of Abia State, I wish to call on Prof Nnaji to immediately clarify the statement credited to him to the effect that he did not receive in part or whole the agreed equity contribution made by Abia State Government instead of five per cent share for the people of the state in Geometric Power project in Aba.”

Vanguard Newspaper

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