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Backlog: Otti sets up machinery to ensure Abia workers are no longer owed salaries, wages

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Backlog: Otti sets up machinery to ensure Abia workers are no longer owed salaries, wages

In view of the huge salary backlog left for the Governor Alex Otti-led administration in Abia by the immediate past government, the governor has set a machinery in motion to ensure that non payment of salaries and wages would, henceforth, become a thing of the past.

Meanwhile, Governor Otti has decided to off- set, in tranches, the N16.5 billion salary arrears owed to staff of the state owned institutions of higher learning by the immediate past administration, this is just as his administration has resolved to pay off the arrears of salaries owed to other workers in the state civil service, in batches.

Abia state Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Mike Akpara, who dropped this hint while briefing newsmen in his office in Umuahia, listed the state -owned institutions of higher learning being owed to include, Abia State University, Uturu (ABSU); College of Education Technical, Arochukwu; College of Health Sciences; Abia State Polytechnic, Aba and Abia State University Teaching Hospital.

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He noted that although the present administration inherited a debt of N16.5billion arrears owed workers in state-owned institutions, it has resolved to clear the debts while ensuring that progress in other sectors of the economy is not hindered.

“One thing I will promise is that it would be paid, but it is not going to be in one sweep. We will do it in instalments, so that it does not hamper the progress of other sectors of the economy,” he said.

The commissioner faulted the financial management practices of the Okezie Ikpeazu administration, noting that subventions provided to institutions did not translate into timely salary payments, which overtime, resulted in months of unpaid wages.

“As a matter of fact, the past government owed Abia State Polytechnic, Aba for a total of 33 months; College of Education, Technical Arochukwu, 22 months; Abia State University for 11 months. Hospital Management Board was owed for several months. Theirs was humongous.

“We also have ASUBEB and Secondary Education Management Bourd, SEMB. The total amounts being owed to them is over N4billion”, Akpara explained.

The Finance Commissioner announced that payments to workers in state-owned institutions of learning has been scheduled to begin in July or August this year, with the goal of completing the payments by the end of the year.

He said government had already paid the salary arrears for April and May, 2024, owed workers in ABSU.

Worried by the inconveniences caused by delays in the payment of salaries and wages to legitimate workers, Akpara emphasized the present administration’s commitment to completely change the narrative of owing workers salaries and addressing the long-standing issue of unpaid wages.

He made it clear that the present administration has not applied for any new loan facility since assumption of office, but, instead hinted that the previous administration began the process for requesting loan from Africa Development Bank (AfDB) and Islamic Development Bank (IDB).

He declared: “we are completing what the past administration started, since government is continuum”.

The Finance Commissioner noted that contrary to speculations, the loans have not been released to this government , pointing out that the state has been managing its finances prudently to meet its obligations.

 

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