Time To Review Your Foreign Travel Philosophy

Time To Review Your Foreign Travel Philosophy

Dear Governor Alex C. Otti

I write to you in all humility and sense of belonging as a fellow stakeholder in the Abia DEVELOPMENT project. This is borne out of my genuine concern, and love for my dear home state – Abia, which has made me to continuously question the activities of government in the last 9 years.

In your 1 year as governor, you have embarked on 4 foreign trips as follows – Rwanda, Hungary, USA and UK, which have cost Abians over N320m, according to the financial reports, published by your government on the state’s website.

We understand that the Rwandan visit was a Leadership Retreat you attended with many of your fellow governors, but many of us questioned the relevance of the trip at the time.

Your visit to Hungary was billed a business trip; however, most of us were disappointed on seeing that most of those you travelled with were career politicians, who had little experience or no value to bring to business discussions. We read in newspapers that you had sealed trade agreements with two Hungarian companies, who we are yet to see till this day.

Many of us knew that it was a futile visit, considering the state of our economy, which had forced foreign investors to leave in droves, especially our currency which was/is facing extreme instability. Abia as well, is not yet an attractive business destination as the environment presents more threats than opportunities to foreign investors.

Your recent visits to the US & UK as a guest speaker at Johns Hopkins University & Cambridge Universities respectively, are good; however, I am questioning the value of such endeavours to Abia State, if those journeys were financed from the state coffers.

The most worrying thing about your lectures is that you were not able to tell the world what you have done or are doing differently as a Governor of Abia to improve the economy of the state, and reposition the state to become a globally attractive business destination.

There was no mention of how you have improved the productivity of the civil service, or how you have grown the economy, or how many new businesses you have attracted to Abia, or how you have reduced unemployment or under-employment in the state, or how many new jobs you have created directly or indirectly, or how many new partnerships you have entered into with private sector investors to create jobs in the state, or how you improved the state’s education or health systems.

You couldn’t talk about how you have introduced innovation in governance or invested in innovation or established new trade destinations for Made-in-Abia goods or how many trade partnerships you have signed, or how you have supported SMEs in the state or how you have improved industrialisation or food security in the state. You couldn’t tell them what you have done to improve the fortunes of Abia youth, the elderly and the women.

Governor Sir, you know too well the economic situation in Abia, especially the high level of youth unemployment, the low wage standard, lack of social, economic and technological infrastructure, you equally know that most of the funds you are using to run government are borrowed, so I’m really worried about your motivation to continue to embark on these futile visits, which offer Abia little or no value in return.

Sir, any such international visits which do not involve bilateral or multilateral business meetings such as meetings with potential foreign investors or signing of trade agreements, are deliberate waste of our scarce resources.

My concern is not just based on these 4 visits, but I am worried because you appear to have followed the footsteps of your predecessor, Governor Ikpeazu, who embarked on such wasteful visits to USA, Dubai, South-Africa, France, Spain, China, Brazil, just to mention a few, and wasted several billions of Abia’s funds, and attracted no single investor.

You budgeted N567bn in 2024 as state expenditure, as a state which is borrowing N319bn (56%) of its budgeted spend, should not indulge in these types of zero value foreign visits, at a time when you have sacked thousands of Abia workers and have forced retirees to forfeit their retirement benefits.

May I humbly beseech you to review your foreign travel philosophy, since you and I know that investors are not swayed by hollow university lectures, photographs on social media and propaganda. You and I know that investors conduct detailed financial and environmental appraisals before taking investment decisions.

Many thanks as I look forward to joining you to celebrate your 1 year in office, when you shall be reeling out STATISTICAL DATA to show us how you have improved the state since you took over.

Your kinsman

Eke O Ako

Management & Engineering Consultant.


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