Abolition of ex-govs’ pension not to witch-hunt my predecessors – Otti

Felix Jacob
Felix Jacob
Alex Otti

Governor Alex Otti has explained that the recent scrapping of pensions for former Governors and their deputies in the state was not to witch-hunt his predecessors as being misconstrued by some, but to reduce the cost of governance.

Otti who spoke during a follow-up retreat for Heads of Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) on strategies to shore up the Internally Generated Revenue, IGR, of the state, maintained that the action was a necessary step to take for the good of the masses.

The governor said that under his watch, public funds would not be shared among a few individuals but equitably deployed to develop the state.

“So, when you saw that we put through our resolve to cut the cost of governance by stopping frivolous payments to people who have left government (former governors and their deputies), it is because we just believe that the right thing should be done.

“Very soon we will also be former governors, so the policy is not targeted at anyone, it’s targeted at good governance, it’s targeted at a reduction in the cost of governance. And quite frankly, we believe it is the right thing to do.

“We don’t believe that politics is a business. We believe that people should have things they are doing before coming to serve, and if you have offered yourself to serve, then you should be willing to make the required sacrifices.

“If you find yourself in this place, you should count yourself lucky that people believe in you, gave you their support and their votes. It is a privilege, and the least that is expected of you is to make sacrifices for the betterment of the state.

“So, the days of sharing money are over, the days of blood tonic politics are also over. This is the time to make sacrifices for the interest of the state.”.

Otti tasked heads of MDAs in the state with devising strategies to shore up the state’s IGR to reduce the N400 billion loan needed to finance the 2024 budget.

He argued that if they worked hard, the state could actually internally generate some of the funds it had intended to borrow.

The governor, who said he would not tolerate indolence, charged the MDG heads to put on their thinking caps and come up with results.

He said: “If we do what we should do and we do them right, then there is no reason the over N400 billion that is supposed to be raised as loans to finance the 2024 budget should not be reduced to the barest minimum.

“So, we expect a situation and a scenario where our IGR would spike and take over our provisions for loans. So, in simple English, what I am saying is that we believe that by the end of the year, we will not borrow as much money than we had put in the budget.”

Governor Otti said it was a misnomer for states to depend on federal allocation every month, insisting that they must explore ways to be financially sufficient

Otti predicted an improvement in Abia IGR in the month ahead, especially with the achievements of his administration, which, he said had boosted public confidence in Government.

In his speech, Commissioner for Finance, Mike Akpara, said there was need to change the narrative, adding that government must do things differently through the generation of enormous IGR.

Explaining that the Government would not tax people unduly, he said that all taxes would be based on things government promised the people and called for all hands to be on deck to generate enough revenue for the state.

“If we want to reduce our debt burden, we must do something differently. We will not continue to do what we’ve been doing before and expect a different result. And what are we going to do? We are going to generate quantum of Internally Generated Revenue, and that is the way to go to make our job a little bit easier and we will be in a position to deliver the dividends of democracy, which we promised the people,” Akpara said.

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