Otti Affirms Resolve to Increase Workers’ Salaries, Regrets Inability to Clear Inherited Pension Arrears

Otti Affirms Resolve to Increase Workers’ Salaries, Regrets Inability to Clear Inherited Pension Arrears

Emmanuel Ugwu-Nwogo in Umuahia

The Governor of Abia State, Mr. Alex Otti, has affirmed his earlier promise to effect the upward review of the salaries of the employees of the state government to reflect the “economic realities of the time”.

The governor, who stated this in his new year broadcast to the state Monday, added that work on the implementation of the pay raise has reached “the final stages”.

In the new year message entitled ‘A journey of great expectations’, Otti urged the people of Abia to keep alive their hope for greater and better things to come from his government.

He said that 2024 would be a year for consolidation on the “modest accomplishments” so far recorded by his administration over the past seven months.

Otti noted that his administration has not been found wanting in working hard to fulfill his campaign promises in order to give the people a new lease of life in good governance.

He stated that his administration has already recorded “modest achievements” in several sectors of the economy, citing improved security, and road infrastructure. 

Other listed achievements, according to him, included regular payment of salaries, reinvigoration of the health sector, effective urban management and support to the economically vulnerable.

However, he regretted that he was unable to fulfill his much repeated promise to clear the huge pension arrears inherited from the past administration.

He had put a timeline to offset the arrears before the end of 2023 only to discover “to our utter shock” that there were pensioners whose arrears stretched back to 2014.

“It is unfortunate to report that a few challenges have conspired to ensure that we are unable to keep this promise,” he said.

According to him, the initial estimated cost of paying the pension arrears doubled after a digital verification of pensioners was conducted to ascertain the number on payroll.

Otti urged the pensioners to exercise patience, assuring them that every hurdle would be cleared to ensure that the arrears were paid before the end of the first quarter of 2023.

To ensure that this renewed promise is kept,the governor stated that: “If required, we may go back to the House of Assembly for necessary approval to ensure that this payment is effected.”

The Abia governor said that he would stick to “our general approach as a government (which) is to create the right environment to support the success of the businesses in ways as job creation”.

He therefore announced plans to set up an international body of advisers known as Abia Global Economic Advisory Board (GEAB), composed of accomplished internationally recognized experts from across the globe.

Otti said that the envisaged team of international advisers “will help in our journey to take our state to the world as a preferred investment destination”.

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