Plans by Governor Alex Otti to raise employee wages in Abia State have been completed.
During a Friday night press conference with journalists in Umuahia, Otti revealed this. He said that he is working with stakeholders to raise the minimum salary for state employees and that the package would be made public as soon as possible.
He stated that the package adjustment was necessary due to current circumstances, particularly the state of the economy. He also assured the recently retired permanent secretaries and directors that they would receive their due salaries and gratuities and reiterated his commitment to paying the state’s pension arrears.
“We do understand that things are a bit more difficult for people. We are engaging with stakeholders to see how we can improve the pay of civil servants in line with the present economic realities, where exchange rates have converged upwards, fuel subsidies have been removed, and inflation is heading to 30%.
“We are already working to see how we can improve on not just the minimum wage but also across the line, and an announcement to that effect will be made in due course,” he said.
In addition, the governor clarified that he did not fire the state’s permanent secretaries, noting that the officials were initially suspended, that their dismissal was consistent with what was acquired at the federal level, and that due procedure was adhered to.
He added that the number of individuals in the state civil service has been “underreported” and that there are simply too many of them. The number is uncountable, “saying that even at Government House, there are several employees who are idle and have been allowed to move out, 237 of whom are ineligible for layoffs.
Regarding the claimed food expenses of his government, Otti stated that there is nothing like that and that the claims are baseless, a hatchet man’s job. A hatchet man’s job, that is. In actuality, the issue is one of deception. This administration manages its finances with extreme caution.
Otti used the chance to clarify that he was not employed by the government or residing there as his predecessor had left the previous government house in a condition of disrepair and had commissioned an incomplete structure.
He went on to say that all of his appointments, including the granting of contracts, were subject to due process and were approved by the state House of Assembly after being approved by the Finance and General Purpose Committee.
He also regretted that the Modern Ceramics Umuahia belonged to the Catholic Church, saying, “But what they found there was different.” They discovered that technology had changed. The industries that we have already examined are Modern Ceramics, Aba Metallurgical Complex, Aba Papers, Aba Textile Mills, and Aba Glass Industry.
“Preliminary works did not support bringing Modern Ceramics back where it is today. We are looking at moving it near to the source of raw material. We are studying and revalidating them. We do not ecourage any industry to die”, he said.
On tourism, the Abia State Chief Executive said, “We are not unmindful of some tourist centres, including the National War Museum, Umuahia. We believe that tourism must be supported in terms of ancillary businesses and industries, including good roads, secure environment and acceptable hotels. First thing first. Let us create the enabling environment first before looking at tourism.”
Otti allayed people’s fear that he might not be comfortable with the higher number of opposition party members at the state House of Assembly, stating that the Abia State lawmakers are concentrating on development, while adding, “I do not think I will have a problem with them”, noting further that they are there for oversight “and are supporting us”.
He listed a number of other issues, such as counterparty funding, which the state has been providing and receiving from donor agencies, reorganizing the Abia State University Teaching Hospital, ABSUTH Aba, guaranteeing that the resources owed to the newly elected LGA Mayors in each of the state’s 17 LGAs will be left in their hands to promote community development, and fostering healthy competition among LGAs, “and not when money is shared, but for competition.”
In addition, he guaranteed the completion of the Abia Industrial Innovative Park, or AIIP, in Ukwa West, revealing that a Chinese and a Nigerian company are currently vying for the contract. He continued by saying that, although being capital-intensive, his administration had completed plans to begin fencing off the old Lokpanta cattle market and that, “as we have it in mind,” amusement parks will soon reopen in Aba and Umuahia.
The demolition of structures purportedly owned by Igbos in Lagos, he said, was regrettable. “If we build the enabling environment in Abia, companies will come,” he said. We think that the work we are undertaking will draw businesspeople to Abia to do transactions.
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