Abia State Governor, Dr. Alex Otti, OFR, says no sacrifice is too big to improve the lives of the people, insisting that even in the quest to build an economically vibrant state, the welfare of the citizens is uppermost.

The Governor, in his Easter message to the people of Abia, released Sunday morning, said if Jesus could sacrifice His life to save mankind from eternal death, according to the teachings of the Christian faith, then “no sacrifice can be too big to improve the life of the very people for whom the Saviour paid the ultimate price”.

Governor Otti in the message titled, “To live the ideals of the risen Christ”, said his administration was very much interested in the welfare of the people, and this had been the principal motivation for all government’s programmes and projects.

“Whether it is in the rehabilitation and reconstruction of long-abandoned roads; reset of the healthcare delivery system; improved security of life and property in our various communities; or in keeping to our promise of prompt and regular payment of salaries and pensions; our objective is always clear: to improve the lot of the average person who lives or does business in Abia,” he emphasised.

To further buttress his position, Governor Otti made reference to the issue of Abia pensioners, who literally hit jackpot with recent payment of the arrears of their pensions, some of them owed since 2014.

He said: “Just three days ago, we fulfilled a very important promise made to our senior citizens at various campaign stops and repeated with firm assurance in the early days of this administration.

“Our initial plan was to offset the pension arrears accumulated since 2014 by the end of 2023, but reconciliation and verification issues made us set the end of the first quarter of 2024 as the new deadline. We duly communicated the situation in our New Year message, and pleaded for the kind understanding of our pensioners.

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“I am glad that we have fulfilled that solemn promise; making it possible for thousands of pensioners and their families to celebrate this year’s Easter in joy, satisfied that what they worked for, their genuine entitlements, which had been delayed for years through no fault of theirs, has finally been offset.”

According to the Governor, paying people their entitlements ordinarily should not be the subject of excitement, “but considering that this most basic of obligations was neglected for years, the palpable joy on the faces of our senior citizens is understandable”.

Governor Otti thanked the executives of the Nigerian Union of Pensioners (NUP) and all pensioners in the State for their faith in the Government, prayers and generous wishes, especially in the last three days when payment for the pension arrears was made. He complimented them for their patience and regretted that they had to wait for so long to receive their due after years of service to the state.

“I want to also thank members of my finance team for painstakingly hashing out the payment details and diligently doing all the hard work that got us to this satisfactory outcome.

“It is indeed regrettable that these great men and women (pensioners), who toiled for the State at the peak of their productive years were owed for so long. At any rate, as I mentioned in my address to Abians shortly after my inauguration, never again shall our senior citizens be subjected to the agony of unpaid entitlements.

“I have since directed that full pensions must be paid on or before the 28th of every month, the very same day civil servants in the state get their salaries. As a rule, political office holders will only be paid after our obligations to our senior citizens and civil servants have been fulfilled, in full,” Governor Otti affirmed.

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He explained that the commitment of government to pay public workers salaries regularly by the 28th of every month was aimed at helping individuals and families on fixed income to plan. He also promised that government would continue with its tradition of periodic support to the poorest of the poor in the state, adding, that arrangements have been made to reach all parts of the State with a special Easter package for the most vulnerable.

“I acknowledge that we cannot reach everyone at the same time, in view of the limited resources at our disposal, but we shall not stop trying. My charge to you is to remain optimistic, hopeful that what you did not get today, may come to you tomorrow.

“We are currently rehabilitating major economic roads in several parts of the State. The design is to make every part of the State attractive for productive activities which will in turn create employment opportunities, put dormant economic assets to effective use and ultimately, reduce the incidence of poverty for the masses while creating genuine wealth for investors.

“In all, we are building Abia into a giant economic ecosystem that supports various ventures — from agriculture to manufacturing, ICT to transportation and so much more. Our dream, as I announced during the inauguration of the Abia Global Economic Advisory Council in January, is to build new possibilities for our people, creating multiple windows of enterprise in ways that profitable outcomes are assured, for those who dare to dream,” Governor Otti declared.

KAZIE UKO
Chief Press Secretary to the Governor
Abia State
Government House, Umuahia
March 31, 2024.

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