Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
Abia workers and pensioners are excited as Governor Alex Otti has directed immediate payment of arrears of April salaries owed public workers in the state by his predecessor, Okezie Ikpeazu’s administration.
The Governor also ordered the payment of June pensions to retirees, some of whom were being owed upwards of 50 months by the last administration.
According to a release by his Chief Press Secretary, Kazie Uko, the payments are in fulfillment of his campaign promise not to owe pensioners and those in service and to clear all outstanding verified debts.
“The Governor gave the directive on Monday after a meeting of the Executive Council which had the Deputy Governor, Engr Ikechukwu Emetu, 16 newly sworn-in Commissioners, the Accountant General and other senior functionaries of the State in attendance,” the release said.
It further read: “Gov. Otti directed the Accountant General to ensure that both the April 2023 salary arrears and the June pension are paid before the end of the week, despite the ongoing verification of pensioners and workers in the government payroll.
“I know government will be losing money by making these payments since verification of workers and pensioners are still going on. So far, we have unearthed a lot of ghost names in our payroll but I also know there are a lot of genuine names there.
“What we are doing by making these payments, especially as it relates to pensioners, is to help mitigate the sufferings of genuine pensioners, who are mostly elderly and sickly and have had to endure untold hardship for so long.”
Otti had during his inaugural speech promised to pay salaries on or before the 28 of every month.
He also promised to clear all outstanding salary and pension arrears before December 31, 2023.
So far Otti who only received federal allocation once, has paid June salary of workers.
He has also commenced biometric verification of all workers with a view to weeding out ghost workers.