Alex Otti, governor of Abia of Abia State, has called on Abians to embrace the new year with great hope, optimism and confidence.
The governor, who was addressing Abians on his New Year broadcast, said that the year 2024 would be a year of consolidation of the gains made in the past 7 months of his administration.
Otti, who captioned his speech “A journey of great expectations”, announced that plans were almost concluded for the upward review of workers salary to fit into the prevailing economic realities.
“We shall review the salaries of all the employees upwards to reflect economic realities of the time. Work on it is on the final stages”
On his promise to defray arrears of pensions in the state before the end of 2023, the governor explained that, “It is unfortunate to report that a few challenges have conspired to ensure that we are unable to keep this promise. Based on the figures available to us, we had arranged the funds to make good this promise, however, before making the payment we decided to conduct a digital verification of the pensioners, to our shock, we found that there were pensioners who had been owed since 2014. At the end of the exercise, just a week ago, the total figure required for the payment was twice the amount we had provided. While we continue to engage the National Union of Pensioners, we believe we will be able to make the payment before the end of the first quarter of the new year. If required, we may go back to the House of Assembly for necessary approval to ensure that this payment is made.”
He equally informed that his government would continue its strategic investments in the education and health sectors.
“Our commitment is to close the funding gap in education and health in the first instance and then see that funds are channeled to meet the most pressing need of the sectors.”
The Abia chief executive revealed that he would seek for an international body of advisers known as Abia Global Economic Advisory Board (GEAB) made up of accomplished internationally recognized experts from across the globe, who will help in the journey to take the state to the world as a preferred investment destination.
“Our general approach as a government is to create the right environment to support the success of the businesses to create jobs, use technology that has been in the heart of the transformation and reform agenda of the government, which will move to a new gear in 2024 starting with the digitalization of the operation of the public institutions for ease of access and efficiency. “We shall also leverage the advantages of technology to drive state-wide human capital development, economic empowerment for the youths and most importantly, job creation.”
According to the governor, the government will be investing huge sum in the critical sectors to spur economic growth, create employment opportunities and revive local businesses, particularly MSMSEs.
“We have already been engaging other members of the organized private sectors (OPS) to take advantage of our business friendly policies to invest in the state.”
He mentioned improved security, road infrastructure, regular payment of salaries, reinvigoration of the health sector, restoration of security, effective urban management, support to the economically vulnerable among other achievements, which spoke volume that he was on a mission to restore and rebuild Abia.
The governor noted that a whooping 84 percent of the 2024 budget had been earmarked for capital project, which include: rebuilding and remodeling of schools and hospitals as well as to build a world-class health village to stem the tide of medical tourism.
While describing the year 2023 as a year of watershed in the political history of the state, Otti thanked all who contributed in reshaping the political direction of the state, which paved the way for the fresh air being inhaled by Abians today.
The state chief executive, who encouraged citizens to sustain their support by paying their taxes as well as cooperating with security agencies to achieve the needed security, wished Abians a happy new year.