Abia: We’ve Fulfilled Pact with Workers, Pensioners

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The Abia State Government has declared that it has religiously kept and fulfilled its pact with workers and pensioners within the last three years of the administration.

The clarification is a response to a recent editorial in one of the national dailies (not THISDAY) alluding that the governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, has failed in his promises to both the workers and pensioners in the state.

The said editorial alluded that “We agree with a majority of Abia people that Governor Ikpeazu has not fulfilled his campaign promises to the people of the state. That Abia civil servants, teachers and other workers are owed months of salary arrears is an indication that the government has failed to meet its obligation to them. The same thing applies to pensioners that the government owes several months of pensions

A statement issued weekend and signed by the Commissioner for Information, John Kalu, accused the publication of contradicting itself and promoting fake news. Kalu wondered why the same publication which had in one of its earlier publications eulogised Ikpeazu for a job well-done turn around to vilify him.

According to him, “Our considered response is simply to refer our people to two extracts from previous publications beginning from the 1st of July 2017, when it published a story with the caption; “Abia Pensioners beg Ikpeazu over arrears”.

“Nigeria Union of Pensioners, Abia State Council, has called on the state governor, Dr. Ikpeazu, to include pension arrears owed its members when clearing debts owed civil servants in the state.

“Rising from a meeting at Umuahia Sub-Treasury Hall, the pensioners outlined debts owed as pension harmonisation arrears, five and half years pension arrears to retired primary school teachers from June 2002 to August 2007 and gratuities which had been outstanding since 1999.”

He explained that “the period referred to was superintended by  Orji Uzor Kalu, who was the Governor of Abia State between 1999 and 2007. It was his administration that owed pensioners and salaries of workers running into months of unpaid wages and pensions, as stated in their own publication.”

He also pointed to yet another publication dated February 27, 2018 with the caption “Ikpeazu has done enough to deserve a second term” where it went on to state that: “Excited by the governor’s performance, most of the communities visited during a recent tour of the state were of the view that to win a re-election, the governor would not need to campaign in the areas, as his achievements so far were enough to speak for him.”

On the outstanding salaries of workers and pensioners, Kalu pointed out that “When the initial refund of N10.6b was made to the state, the federal government advised states to invest 50% to outstanding wage payment and Abia under Ikpeazu verifiably complied.  Indeed, Governor Ikpeazu was brave in deploying 50% of the fund belonging to more than 5 million Abians to service the wages of 38,000 workers. The remaining 50% was appropriated to meet the needs of the remaining 4.9m Abians.

“Workers and pensioners received N5.6b while N1.7b was devoted to road construction and repairs. Construction of bridges, including Osisioma (Flyover) interchange got N2.6b while hospitals and street lighting got N685m and N200m respectively.

“When the second tranche of N5.7b was received, Governor Ikpeazu gave all of it to workers and pensioners in the state. He remains the only governor in Nigeria to toe that path of unquestionable love for workers and pensioners,” he stressed.