Abia pays N9bn pension arrears

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The Abia State Government says it has spent over N9bn on the payment of pension arrears in the state.

This was according to the state Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Mike Akpara.

Akpara disclosed this to journalists on Wednesday in Umuahia, stating that the whole pension was paid as agreed with the Nigerian Union of Pensioners in the state.

He said, “We had an agreement with the Nigerian Union of Pensioners, and to what we agreed, His Excellency (Alex Otti) did exactly what we agreed. 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 got up to N8m, individuals, so it’s 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, indeed, the governor had mentioned  2014 but from the information I have gathered, we even went beyond 2014 because there were some persons that were owed pension arrears before 2014 that we also cleared. It is not on an equal basis.

“The 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,” he said.

Earlier, the state Commissioner for Information and Culture, Okey Kanu, while briefing the press in the Government House Umuahia on the outcome of this week’s Executive Council meeting, said the 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.

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