Governor Alex Otti of Abia State has made the decision to authorize the immediate payment of pensions to pensioners in the state, even though a verification exercise to identify ghost pensioners is still ongoing.
In a statement issued by Ferdinand Ekeoma, media adviser to the Governor, it was stated that Otti took this step to ensure that pensioners can meet their immediate needs.
Ekeoma emphasized that waiting for the verification exercise to conclude before initiating payment could be detrimental to pensioners. Many of them are currently facing severe economic and health challenges that require financial assistance. Therefore, despite the potential losses that the government may incur, Otti directed the state’s pensions board to proceed with the payments.
The delay in pension payments had been attributed to the absence of reliable data for identifying legitimate pensioners. Consequently, a verification exercise was initiated to distinguish genuine pensioners from fraudulent individuals who were used to exploit the state’s resources. Otti believes that implementing a sanitized system or template is crucial to ensuring a smooth and sustainable process for pension payments, which is in the best interest of genuine pensioners.
Regarding the payment of Local Government workers, Ekeoma explained that the government had previously requested payment schedules from the Local Government Treasurers. However, unfortunately, they refused to provide the requested information, leading to a delay in their payment.
Governor Alex Otti’s decision to proceed with immediate pension payments demonstrates his concern for the well-being of pensioners and the urgent nature of their financial needs. The ongoing verification exercise aims to establish a transparent and efficient system to ensure that only deserving pensioners receive their benefits.