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Abia Governor Otti to increase workers minimum wage

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Alex Otti

Governor Alex Otti has concluded plans to increase the salaries of the Abia State workforce.

Otti disclosed this in Umuahia on Friday night during a media parley with journalists, stating that he is engaging with stakeholders to improve the minimum wage of the state workers and that soonest, the package would be made public.
The reason for adjusting the package, he said, was in line with the realities at hand, especially the economy, adding that the recently retired permanent secretaries and directors would receive arrears of salaries and gratuities due to them while reassuring of his commitment to defray pension arrears in the state.
“We do understand that things are a bit more difficult for the people. We are engaging with stakeholders to see how we can improve on the pay of civil servants in line with the present economic realities, where exchange rates have converged upwards and fuel subsidy has 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 announcement to that effect will be made in due course,” he said.
The governor also explained that he did not sack permanent secretaries in the state, stating that the officials were first placed on suspension and that their removal was in line with what was obtained at the federal level and that due process was followed.
He also explained that there are too many people in the state civil service and that the number has been “underreported. The number is beyond us”, stating that even in the Government House, there are many workers who are not doing anything and have been able to transfer out, 237 of them, who cannot be sacked.
On the issue of alleged expenses on food by his government, Otti said there is no truth in the allegations as they are unfounded and a hatchet man’s job, noting, “There is nothing like that. It is a hatchet man’s job. The truth of the matter is that it is about falsehood. This is a government that is very prudent in the way it handles funds.”
Otti used the opportunity to explain that he was not working or living in the Government House because his predecessor commissioned an incomplete building while the old Government House was left in a dilapidated state.
He further explained that all his appointments followed due process and approval by the state House of Assembly, including the award of contracts, which were also approved by the Finance and General Purpose Committee.
The Modern Ceramics Umuahia, he also said, belonged to the Catholic Church, regretting, “But what they found there was different. They found out that the technology has moved. We are already looking at the industries” including the Modern Ceramics, Aba textile mills, Aba Papers, Aba Metallurgical Complex, 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”.
Other issues, he said include counterparty funding which he said the state has been paying and also receiving from donor agencies, getting the Abia State University Teaching Hospital, ABSUTH Aba back to shape; assuring that the resources due to the new LGA Mayors in the 17 LGAs of the state will be left with them to encourage the development of their communities; and for a healthy competition with other LGAs, “and not when money is shared, but for competition”.
He also assured of the realisation of Abia Industrial Innovative Park, AIIP, in Ukwa West, disclosing that already, a Chinese company and a Nigerian company are struggling for the bid. He added that, though capital intensive, his administration has concluded plans to start the fencing of the former cattle market at Lokpanta, adding that amusement parks will soon return in Aba and Umuahia “as we have it in mind.”
He described as unfortunate the pulling down of buildings allegedly belonging to Igbos in Lagos, stating, “If we build the enabling environment in Abia, companies will come. We believe that what we are doing will attract businessmen to come and do business in Abia.

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