Dr. Alex Otti, the governorship candidate of Labour Party (LP) in Abia State in the forthcoming 2023 general election, has sympathised with the leadership of the Church in the state, over the non-payment of huge salary arrears owed civil servants in the state.
Otti said it was disheartening that pastors and other leaders within the Christendom are now the ones who bear the brunt of what appears to be a deliberate policy of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) government led by Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State, to impoverish public servants in the state, especially teachers who are owed many months of salary arrears.
The LP governorship candidate spoke on Wednesday in Amuda, Isuochi, Umunneochi Local Government Area of Abia State, at a meeting with some select Church leaders in the communities in the area, while on a campaign tour. He was responding to a scathing remark an Assemblies of God Church clergy made about the economic hardship his parishioners, some of who are teachers, are going through due to non payment of their salaries.
The clergyman, in an emotion-laden speech recounted how the Church had consistently intervened in providing for members who can no longer afford to take care of themselves and their families because Abia government has failed to pay them their due, despite still receiving revenues from Federal Allocation and internally-generated revenue running into billions of Naira.
“I am a pastor to some teachers and they have told me that their salaries are not paid. Bear in mind that if we vote you into office, what happened to Peter Obi in Anambra will happen to you. You will have humongous debt to pay.
“Abia government does not pay teachers. One of the teachers, an assistant headmaster, told me that. Now, a teacher is being owed salary arrears, he is hungry and I’m expecting him to pay tithe, sow seed and give offering in church. Is that possible? Of course, it’s not possible,” the clergyman lamented.
Responding, Otti said: “I can relate to what you have said because if you’re pastoring teachers and they have not been paid, how can they support themselves. So, what will happen is that Church leaders like you will be the ones supporting the teachers.
“If a teacher comes to you today and say, ‘Pastor, my family has not eaten’, if it’s just N500 you have in your pocket, you’ll give it to him; you’re the one now paying tithes to him. So, that’s what it is.”
The top banker and renowned economist reiterated that his quest to govern Abia State was not for personal enrichment but earnest desire to rescue Abia from the hands of PDP vampires, who have continued to prey on the state’s rich wealth at the expense of its citizens.
Earlier, Otti, who was accompanied on the campaign trail by his amiable wife, Mrs. Priscilla Otti; running mate, Engr. Ikechukwu Emetu; State Campaign Council Coordinator, Hon Iheanacho Obioma; Abia North Senatorial candidate, Nnamdi Iro Oji (Opotoyom); Isuikwuato-Umunneochi Federal Constituency candidate, Amobi Ogah and Umunneochi State Assembly candidate, Matthias Umeh, had joined the congregation at Wesley Cathedral Nneochi Diocese of Methodist Church, for their Covenant Service.
The entourage thereafter proceeded to the palace of Eze Ernest Onwuka, Ikpa (I) of Aro-Ikpa, for a courtesy call on traditional rulers of the communities and consequent endorsement.
At every turn, Otti and his team reeled out Labour Party’s lofty plans to develop Abia State, create jobs, wealth and the enabling environment for Abians to prosper, through provisions of necessary basic infrastructure and payment of outstanding salaries, pensions and gratuities of workers and retirees.