Gov Otti: Why we set aside N10 bn to clear pension arrears owed 12, 500 Abia retirees 

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From Boniface Okoro, Umuahia

Abia State Governor, Dr, Alex Otti, has explained that he set aside N10 billion to clear arrears of pensions owed retired civil servants in the state since 2014 because the senior citizens were among the most vulnerable in the society.

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Governor Otti gave the explanation during the April 2024 edition of his monthly  Media Chat tagged “Otti Speaks to Abians,” held at the Banquet Hall of Government House, Umuahia on Friday, April 5, 2024.

 The Governor vowed that never again would Abia pensioners be owed their pensions, assuring that going forward, the pensioners would be paid their  full monthly pensions, alongside civil servants  on or before the 28th of every month.

Governor Alex Otti revealed that the payment of accumulated pensions have impacted positively on the economy of the state as it has injected money into the system.

“I am glad to report that all pensioners, when I said all, I mean all of them, have been paid as at last Thursday (April 28). All of the arrears have been taken away,” Otti said.

“And I will like that we all agree, whether I am here or not, that never again will anybody owe pensioners. They are the most vulnerable people. They are people who have worked, some of them for 35 years, they retired at 60 years.”

The Governor said he was happy that pensioners in the state were happy with the defraying  of the pension backlog, stressing that governance should be people-centred.

“Governance should be about the people. If you are serving the people and the people are not happy, then, you are not serving. 

“So, going forward, we must make sure that they are paid even before the people paying them,” the Governor emphasized. 

He explained that government had an agreement on how the pension arrears should be paid.

Otti said: “What we did, we looked at everything that is being owed and we sat down with the Nigeria Union of Pensioners, and we felt that those who were being owed, whose total outstanding were low, should get a higher percentage of the total fund that was in the basket. So, that was a progressive system of paying. 

“But what is important is that we had an agreement and we kept to that agreement. The total money we put in the basket was about N10 billion and, I think to date, over N9 billion has been paid out. There are still a few people who, may be, their account numbers were not correct. But then, at the end of the day, everybody has received their funds.”

“Bu that is talking about the past. For me, what is actually most interesting is that from this April, everybody now gets 100 percent of what is due them. So, it is not just the backlog which they have collected, but it is about what happens, going forward,” he added.

The finance expert noted that with the clearing of the pension arrears, more money has been pumped into the Abia economy.

“The economy works with money. If you are in Abia and you will see that those pensioners who would have been begging for N500, N1000, N5000 to eat are able to feed themselves today and you recognize the fact that when they spend this money , they spend it in the state.

“So, if you understand the multiplier effect of money, if you understand that supply can only happen when there is demand and effective demand is that demand that is backed up by cash, then you would have understood what we have done; we have returned power to those that own it and that is the people, and I am happy that our pensioners, close to 12,500 of them, have been paid,” the Governor said.

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