Former Governor of Anambra State and Vice Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2019 elections, Peter Obi, has revealed that he was touched to pay off an accumulated pension and gratuity debt of N35 billion, which he inherited from the previous administration, because of the sufferings of the elderly people who were being denied their rights.
Obi, who made the revelation in an online event titled “Politics 101 with Peter Obi”, said the pains and lamentations of the elderly people, who had served the state in various capacities, but were not yet accorded their due financial rights, were what motivated him to pay off the inherited debt. Coupled with his Christian belief that a labourer deserved his just wage, Obi said he could not watch them suffer and cry without ‘doing something about their plight’.
Narrating a particular experience that cemented his resolve to pay off the inherited debt, Obi told of his encounter with an 80-year-old woman in the church where he had gone to pray.
He said “One faithful day I went to church to pray. As a matter of personal policy, I do not allow my security men into the church with me because I know God is the Ultimate protector and we are all one before God. As I knelt down in prayer, an 80-year-old woman, Mrs Ndibe, of blessed memory, came and snatched my bible. She began to lament that she, just like many others, had not been paid her pensions and gratuity. She said God will not answer my prayers unless I paid them.
“I wanted to book a private appointment with her to discuss her complaints, she refused. Paying the accumulated gratuities and pensions was the only thing she wanted. I later paid her a visit in her house and we discussed further. She told me stories of her pains that moved me to tears. She recounted all she had passed through because she had not been paid her gratuity and pensions.”
Obi said that singular experience opened his eyes to many untold stories of men and women who were in the same shoes with late Mrs Ndibe. He instantly did all his best to clear off the debts.
Warning against denying people their due wages in life, Obi said it was inhuman for one to refuse to pay another who had worked meritoriously for them. He described the refusal to pay pensions and gratuity, as and when due, as an act of wickedness.
Obi also encouraged politicians and public office holders to always give listening ears to the plights of their people stating that every elected candidate was meant to serve and not to be served.