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Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), has admonished Abia state governor-elect Dr. Alex Otti to institute transparency in the governance of Abia state by publishing its finances.

Speaking on Friday from Washington, capital of the United States, as Keynote speaker at the inauguration of the Transition Council of the Abia State Governor-Elect Dr. Otti in Aba, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala said ‘the time for good leadership in Abia is now’.

“Many Nigerians, especially on our side in the South East, don’t really believe that government can do anything for them… You dig your own borehole to get water, generate your own electricity, do everything for yourself. That is entrepreneurial but… maybe that is not the best way to run things.”

For government to regain its lost confidence among the populace, it “must get a tight and better and cleaner governance that must be transparent”, she advised.

According to her, during her tenure as Nigeria’s Finance Minister in 2003, “We used to publish the finances of every state, what the federal government gave each state every month because … governors were telling their people, ‘oh, we didn’t get any allocation from the federal government this month that’s why we cannot pay salaries, that is why we cannot pay teachers, that is why we cannot run our health system’.

“So we started to publish it in the newspapers of every month after the FAAC meeting and then put it on the Internet so you can go to the ministry of finance website and see. This helped change people’s attitude.

We want our state government to set an example by being transparent about its finances. This is a governor that everybody is looking up to. His Excellency is educated, knows how to manage cost because he’s been a bank manager, he’s done so many things.

Responding, Dr. Otti thanked Dr. Okonjo-Iweala for her wise counsel and for accepting the invitation to present the keynote speech.

On cost of governance, the Abia Governor-Elect, an advocate of slim governance, said, “I believe very strongly that part of the problems for this country is the cost of governance. I’ve written extensively about it, I’ve condemned it and I can’t be caught dead doing the same thing that I have condemned.”

He acknowledged the huge task ahead, and also declared the preparedness of the in-coming team “… to do that work”.

Chairman of the Transition Council, Victor Onyenkpa and Co-chairman, Ifueko Omogui Okauru both earlier expressed confidence in the leadership qualities of Dr. Otti and his ability to deliver on his mandate.

They promised that the transition team would produce a work that will take the state forward going into the future.

– Kazie Uko

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