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Abia State Retirees Rejoice As Governor Otti Keeps Promise, Clears Nine Years Of Pension Arrears

Nigerian Union of Pensioners (Abia chapter) says Governor Otti is a “man to rely on” after he cleared nine-year arrears.

Nine years of agony and gloom are finally over for the retired employees of Abia State government as Governor Alex Otti has kept his campaign promise of clearing the accumulated pension by past governments.

Tears of joy flowed from the senior citizens on Thursday as they started receiving credit alert messages of varying amounts of money with some getting as much as N1.8 million and even more.

The governor had on Thursday morning revealed that the retirees were going to smile before the close of work.

He was addressing the congregation at Christ the King Catholic Church(CKC), Aba, where he had joined the priests and the faithful to celebrate Chrism Mass and renewal of priestly vows.

“Some of you (pensioners) have been owed since 2014. At the end of today (Thursday) all of you will smile. Check your accounts at the end of business today,” Otti assuredly announced.

And true to his words, credit alert messages started flying all over Abia and beyond depending on the location of each pensioner at the time the cheering messages arrived, indicating that the long awaited money had entered their accounts.

Confirming the cheering development on Friday, the state Chairman of the Nigerian Union of Pensioners(NUP), Comrade Chukwuemeka Irondi, said that “many people have told me they have received arrears”.

Irondi, who was speaking on a radio programme in Umuahia, poured encomiums on the Abia governor for fulfilling his promise to the pensioners.

He said that “we followed him” in the 2023 general election because of his promise to clear the pension arrears.

“The man called Governor Alex Otti is a man to rely on. He is a man who loves and cares for pensioners; he is a man who means well for Abians,” the Abia NUP Chairman enthused.

However, he said that he was yet to confirm if the amount of money received by retirees covered the entire arrears since 2014 or the arrears arising from half payments from June 2023.

But the Coordinator of the Concerned Abia Pensioners (CAP), Chief Emeka Okezie, said that Otti started payment of the pension arrears since Wednesday.

“I have received my own and many others have. Some were paid N1.3m, some N1.7m, some N1.8m and some, more,” he said.

Okezie had led several protests against the immediate past administration over the disdain that pensioners were treated which he said had resulted in a high death rate among the retirees.

However, in the present situation, he revealed that the leadership of CAP would organise a march of solidarity to express their gratitude to Governor Otti for wiping away the bitter tears of Abia pensioners.

Otti had initially promised to offset the pension arrears inherited from his predecessors by last December but as the deadline elapsed he later explained that it was no longer possible due to new revelations.

According to him, in the course of the verification exercise it was discovered the arrears of pensions stretched back to 2014 hence the amount of money initially projected would no longer be enough.

Nonetheless, the governor renewed his promise, assuring the hopeful retirees that their accumulated pension arrears would certainly be paid by the end of March 2024.

Emmanuel Ugwu-Nwogo

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