• Friday, June 21, 2024
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BusinessDay

Otti authorises payment of pensions, despite ongoing verification excercise in Abia

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Governor Alex Otti of Abia State has authorised the state’s pensions board to immidiately pay pensioners in the state, despite the ongoing verification excercise to fish out ghost pensioners.

Ferdinand Ekeoma, media adviser to the Abia State Governor, in a statement stated that Otti took the decision to enable the pensioners, meet their immidiate needs.

He noted that waiting for the conclusion of the exercise before commencement of payment could be harmful to the pensioners, as many of them are facing severe economic and health challenges that require funds to take care of, hence his directive that, not minding the losses that might be incurred by government.

He explained that the delay in the payment of pension stemmed from the absence of a reliable data for the payment of pensioners, hence the commencement of a verification exercise to enable government ascertain real pensioners, and differentiate them from ghost elements used to shortchange the state.

He argued that it is in the interest of genuine pensioners that a sanitized system/template is put in place to enable for a hitch-free and sustainable process of payment of their pensions.

On the payment of Local Government workers, Ekeoma explained that government had earlier requested the LG Treasurers to provide their payment schedules, which unfortunately they refused.

He stated that the request was premised on the discovery that majority of workers in the LGs were being shortchanged either by nonpayment of their salaries or by being paid half salary at the end of every month.

This according to him, is because there was no centralised and transparent payment process monitored, by the State and so, those saddled with the responsibility of paying workers at the local government level resorted to all kinds of fraud including denial of salaries to those they do not like.

“The government also discovered that those in charge were using ghost workers to draw multiple salaries at the expense of genuine workers.

“On realising that the government wasn’t going to succumb to subtle blackmail and threat of protest, the LGAs have started cooperating. The government has therefore concluded plans to start paying LGA workers by Friday July 14, 2023.”

He further explained that in spite of the anomalies in the system that Governor Otti wouldn’t want to resort to blaming previous governments in the future, hence his decision to take decisive and corrective measures at this early stage of his administration, which would see to the clean-up of the corrupt system and restoration of sanity.

He reassured Abians, especially workers and pensioners that Otti would keep to his promise of clearing the salary and pension arrears in record time, as promised during the campaigns, hence his determination to sanitize the system so as to set a corrupt-free template and ensure sustainability in the payment process.