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Politics

Abia govt introduces contributory pension scheme

Abia State Government has set up a help desk in the Ministry of Finance to address omissions and other issues arising from the recent payment of arrears of pensions to retirees in Abia State by Governor Alex Otti.

The Commissioner for Information and Culture, Prince Okey Kanu disclosed this Wednesday while briefing the press in Umuahia on the outcome of this week’s Executive Council meeting, stating that the Help Desk is necessary to ensure no pensioner was left out in arrears of pensions the Governor has defrayed.

Kanu said “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, Dr Alex Otti has ordered that the pensioners be paid on the 28 of every month, just like the civil servants in the state”, and disclosed that the state government has concluded plans to introduce a Contributing Pension Scheme for civil servants in the state.”

Speaking further on the issues of pensions, the Commissioner for Finance, Mike Akpara disclosed that over 9 billion Naira has so far been spent on the payment of arrears of pensions in the state, adding that the whole pension was paid as agreed with the Nigerian Union of Pensioners in the state.

“We had an agreement with the Nigerian Union of Pensioners and to what we agreed, His Excellency did exactly what we agreed. And the agreement is to pay the arrears of pensions and that’s exactly what the government has done and they are happy about that.

“Everybody knows that things are hard, so for a government to even own up and do what others have not done even in the past, it needs applause. Some people have up to 8 million naira, individuals, so it is not a mean thing.

Contributing, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Media and Publicity, Mr. Ferdinand Ekeoma said the payments are verifiable, adding that the calculations were properly done and the negotiations with the leadership of the pensioners happened without hitches.

“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 that were owed pension arrears prior to 2014 that we also cleared. It is not on an 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.”

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