Unpaid workers’ salary, pension arrears divide Ikpeazu, T.A. Orji

 Carry your cross, ex-governor Orji advises Gov Ikpeazu

Sen. Theodore Orji, the immediate-past governor of Abia State, has distanced himself from the struggles faced by Abia workers due to a backlog of unpaid salaries, ordering his successor and the current governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, to accept responsibility for failing to pay employees.

Workers in Abia State had vowed to continue their ongoing, indefinite strike until their backlog of unpaid wages is cleared.

The employees denied the Secretary to the State Government’s (SSG) assertions that the strike had been put on hold and rejected them as incorrect.

Senator Orji expressed shock that the outgoing Governor despite receiving billions of Naira from the Federal Government as bailout funds, was unable to pay Abia workers only to turn around and blame his failure on him.

The Senator representing Abia Central who spoke through his Chief Liaison Officer Hon Ifeanyi Umere, asked Ikpeazu to stop shifting blames and own up to his failures.

Orji in a statement entitled: “Ikpeazu Should Carry His Cross”, explained that when he left office in 2015, core civil servants were not owed any salary arrears while workers in parastatals were owed not more than four months.

He, therefore, expressed surprise that his successor had allowed salary arrears to accumulate up to 40 months and still points accusing fingers at him.

The statement read in part:”It’s unfortunate that I am forced to comment and refute the half-truths being dished out by those who through their own bad choices have found themselves in a quagmire.

“For the avoidance of any doubt, neither myself nor my administration is responsible for the staggering salary arrears owed both civil servants, parastatals and pensioners in the state.

“Before my administration came to an end on May 29, 2015, core civil servants were not owed even one-month salary arrears. Parastatals were the ones that were owed between two and four months. The records are there.

“At any rate, the arrears were necessitated by the dwindling federal allocation occasioned by the worsening global economy. The price of crude had crashed and the states were getting a paltry two to three billion naira monthly which was not even enough to run the state including capital and recurrent expenditures.

“Those who took over from us inherited both assets and liabilities. In this case, the government is a continuum. So, if we were owing two to three months, we expected out successors to clear them.

This expectation was based on the fact that they received bail out funds from the federal government more than three times running into billions of naira. Again the economy had picked up considerably enabling the outgoing government to chalk up considerable income as can be confirmed from the ministry of finance.

“So why was it difficult for them to offset the debts? Again if for any reason they couldn’t or were unwilling to offset, why did they allow it to skyrocket to between 35 and 40 months? Why are they also owing core civil servants?

“So basically, I am not the problem. They should carry their cross.”

I won’t join issues with you – Ikpeazu fires back

Abia state Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, has vowed not to join issues with any of his predecessors over the affairs of the state.

He explained that he has held office as governor for almost eight years, and has never engaged any of his predecessors in any untoward exchange, even when it was politically expedient to do so.

While reacting to Orji’s claims, the governor, in a statement by his chief press secretary, Mr. Onyebuchi Ememanka, disclosed that he is proudly carrying the cross of the governance of the state and will continue to carry it till the expiration of his tenure.

“As a personal policy, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu will not join issues with any of his predecessors in office.

“For the almost eight years he has held office as governor, he has not engaged any of his predecessors in any kind of untoward exchange, even when it seemed politically expedient to do so.

“This policy is largely responsible for the socio-political stability we have enjoyed in Abia State since 2015.

“The governor intends to sustain this personal policy going forward.

“Governor Okezie Ikpeazu is of the firm view that as in all matters, history and posterity will, over time, put all things in proper perspective,” the statement read.

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