There are strong indications that Abia State Governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu may fire Mr. Victor Apugo as the General Manager (GM) of Abia State Environmental Protection Agency (ASEPA), this week, over the return of heaps of refuse in the state.
A source in government confided in LEADERSHIP that the governor believes that Apugo, who succeeded his elder brother, Hon. Martins Apugo as the GM of the Abia State’s waste management agency, has failed in the discharge of his duties despite receiving monthly subventions from government.
Apugo‘s inability to manage waste disposal in Umuahia, the Abia State Capital, and its environs, provoked a summon by the members of Abia State House of Assembly, who wanted to know from him reasons why the state capital is overtaken by heaps of refuse.
Rather than honoring the House summon, Apugo issued a statement through his media assistant, Ibe Vincent Ogbonnaya, accusing Governor Ikpeazu of starving his agency of funds. He went further to state amounts given to his predecessors in office as compared to what he was getting monthly.
In a release, titled: “WITHOUT PREJUDICE, WHEN NOT TO PLAY POLITICS, ASEPA IN FOCUS” Apugo said: “Under Chief Cosmos Ndume, a whooping 200 million naira and above were been released monthly to Asepa as monthly subvention.
“Under Hon Martins Apugo, monthly subvention came to about N66m to N70 monthly considering the carving out of ASEPA Aba Zone.
“Under Hon Victor Apugo, it started revolving around 22 million till date. A curious person should remember that at the time subvention was about N200 million, the price of diesel was below N100 per liter.
“Under Martins Apugo diesel was a little above N100 per liter. Now that the price of diesel sells at N220 per liter, the monthly subvention is N22 million per month. How do one justify paying both permanent and contract staff, buying tyres, servicing compactors and the ad-hoc staff cum sweepers.”
In swift reactions, the two former GM of ASEPA, Hon. Cosmos Ndukwe and Hon. Marthins Apugo refuted the claims by Apugo, the current ASEPA boss.
In his reaction, the immediate past ASEPA boss, Marthins Apugo, describes his younger brother’s claims as false.
Apugo, the former ASEPA boss who was also the All Progressive Congress (APC) candidate for House of Representatives, Ikwuano/Umuahia Federal Constituency at the 2019 election, in a release personally signed by him said he was receiving N22m monthly and not N70m as claimed by his brother.
“After ASEPA Aba zone was carved out I was receiving N22 million monthly for waste management in Umuahia and not N66m or N70 million from the administration of former Governor T.A Orji, and also the period I served under the administration of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu.”
Also, another former GM of ASEPA and the immediate past Deputy Speaker of the Abia State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Cosmos Ndukwe also denied the claims made by the current ASEPA boss.
Ndukwe in a statement he issued at the weekend said: “My attention has been drawn to a false online publication authorized by the present General Manager of ASEPA, Victor Apugo, published by his media aide, Ibe Vincent, giving credence to outright falsehood that I was given monthly allocation of N200m as GM ASEPA before I was promoted to Chief of Staff to the Governor.
“How much was Abia State allocation between 2007 and 2012 and the Budget of Ministry of Environment, our parent ministry, that one single Agency of Government will receive N200m in one single month?
“The highest subvention I received as ASEPA GM for the seven years I spent as General Manager was no more than N6.5m (Umuahia) and N13.5m (Aba) for a single month totaling 20m.
“Note that there were shortfalls in some months and that is understandable given the way government functions. Yet I managed to keep Umuahia, with two township markets, clean for 7 years with N6.5m unlike his stated N22m monthly receipt under his watch for Umuahia alone. Sadly, Umuahia is now characterized as one of dirtiest state capitals.
“I will appreciate if the present GM and his irritating media aides will revisit official records to ascertain if the 35 compactor trucks, one low bed, 3 Bulldozers, Staff welfare Buses, Task force Buses, Tippers and Light weight baskets I handed over to my successor, Martin Apugo, is still within reach and stop exposing others to public opprobrium.”
Political observers in the state believe that it is only a matter of days before Governor Ikpeazu fires Victor Apugo as political stakeholders and commentators in the state appear united in demanding the immediate sack or resignation of the embattled Apugo to pave way for his investigation for diversion of funds meant for sanitation in Umuahia.
A former senior government official who spoke under condition of anonymity said that since his appointment as GM of ASEPA Apugo has shown lackadaisical attitude to the task of cleaning up the city but instead has been buying exotic cars and traveling monthly out of the country as soon as he receives subventions from the government.
According to the source, since the issues around non-performance of Apugo is within public domain, Governor Ikpeazu, who was himself former Deputy General Manager of ASEPA in Aba, has resorted to sack him.
“There has been pressure before now on the governor to sack him. But the governor who has been making excuses for him, thinking he would change, has made up his mind to sack him.”