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‘Some got N8m,’ Gov Otti spends N9bn to clear pension areas in Abia without borrowing 

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'Some got N8m,' Gov Otti spends N9bn to clear pension areas in Abia without borrowing 

Abia to introduce contributory pension scheme

 

Abia State government says it has so far paid over N9 billion, in the first instance, to retirees in the state without borrowing from banks.

This is also as government announced plan to introduce contributory pension scheme in the state civil service.

Dr. Alex Otti, the state governor, had last week, begun payment of the huge backlog of unpaid pension inherited from past regimes from since 2014.

The state Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Mike Akpara, who disclosed this during a media chat with newsmen in Umuahia, stated that the exercise of paying pension arrears started last week.

According to the commissioner, the modalities for the payments of the entitlements to the pensioners was as agreed with the state chapter of the Nigerian Union of Pensioners (NUP).

“We had an agreement with the Nigerian Union of Pensioners and that was exactly what we did. His Excellency Dr. Alex Otti approved exactly what we agreed at our meetings. The agreement is exactly what the government has done. Pensioners are happy about that,” he said.

“Everybody knows that things are hard. For a government to even own up and do what others have not done, even in the past, needs an applause. Some individual pensioners got as much as N8 million as arears. So its not a mean thing.”

Concerning those pensioners who had problems during the verification exercise, which gave rise to the on-going payments, Commissioner Akpara further hinted that he had set-up a “Help Desk” in the Ministry of Finance to address cases of omissions and other issues arising from the recent payment of arrears of pensions to retirees.

He explained that the creation of the Help Desk was necessary in order to ensure no pensioner was left out in the arrears of pensions the Governor has defrayed.

In his own speech, the state Commissioner for Information and Culture, Prince Okey Kanu further hinted that government has ordered that henceforth, full monthly pensions be paid to the retirees on the same day civil servants in the state receive their pay

His words: ” Arising from some issues associated with the payment of arrears of pensions in the state, Ministry of Finance has set up a Help Desk that will address the issues arising from the cases of those whose names were skipped. The whole idea is to ensure that, the whole process is smooth.

“Following the recent pension payment to our pensioners , His Excellency, Dr. Alex Otti, OFR has ordered that the pensioners be paid on the 28 of every month , just like the civil servants in the state.”

The Commissioner also announced that the State Government has concluded plans to introduce a Contributing Pension Scheme for civil servants in the state

He revealed that the state government has approved the reconstruction of 3.5 kilometres Osisioma – Ekeakpara road in Osisioma LGA. and informed that the road would be reconstructed with cement pavement technology to guarantee its duration.

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Answering a question, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Publicity, Mr. Ferdinand Ekeoma, explained that the payments are verifiable. He said that the calculations were properly done and the negotiations with the leadership of the NUP happened without hitches.

Said he: “We took it to the extreme and it is true that the Governor had actually mentioned 2014 but from the information I have gathered , we even went beyond 2014, because there were some persons who were owed pension arrears prior to 2014 that we also cleared. So payments were not made on equal bases .

“The Honourable Commissioner for Finance and the Accountant General are already collating names of those who are having issues and all those issues are going to be resolved.”

On the issue of the forthcoming ANPA free medical mission , the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Ngozi Okoronkwo assured of the readiness of the state and added that the number of prospective patients have increased because of massive interest people have shown in the programme.

She added that the increased number would translate to carrying out about 25 surgeries a day.

Dr. Okoronkwo used the opportunity to inform that the State has gotten approval from the Nursing Council of Nigeria to run a two- year certificate programme to produce Community healthcare practitioners in rural communities in the state.

The community healthcare nurses would assist the personnel serving in the communities in providing healthcare to the people.

 

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