Abia State Governor, Dr Alex Otti, OFR has called on Abians to embrace the new Year with great hope, optimism and confidence.
Governor who was addressing Abians on his New Year broadcast, said that the year 2024 will be a year of consolidation of the gains made in the past 7 months of his administration.
Governor Otti who captioned his speech “A journey of great expectations” announced that plans are almost concluded for the upward review of workers salary to fit into the prevailing economic realities.
“We shall review the salaries of all the employees upwards to reflect economic realities of the time. Work on it is on the final stages”
On his promise to defray arrears of pensions in the State before the end of 2023, the Governor explained that “It is unfortunate to report that a few challenges have conspired to ensure that we are unable to keep this promise . Based on the figures available to us , we had arranged the funds to make good this promise, however, before making the payment we decided to conduct a digital verification of the pensioners , to our alter shock, we found that there were pensioners who had been owed since
2024. At the end of the exercise, just a week ago, the total figure required for the payment was twice the amount we had provided . While we continue to engage the National Union of Pensioners ,we believe we will be able to make the payment before the end of the first quarter of this New Year. If required, we may go back to the House of Assembly for necessary approval to ensure that this payment is made”
He equally informed that his government will continue its strategic investments on education and health sectors “Our commitment is to close the funding gap in education and health in the first instance and then see that funds are channeled to meet the most pressing need of the sectors ”
The Governor revealed that he will seet an International body of advisers known as Abia Global Economic Advisory Board (GEAB) made up of accomplished internationally recognized experts from accross the globe, “who will help in our journey to take our State to the world as a preferred investment destination”
Governor Otti, who said that “Our general approach as a government is to create the right environment to support the success of the businesses in ways that job creation ” maintained that technology which has been in the heart of the transformation and reform agenda of the government shall move to a new gear in 2024 starting with the digitalization of the operation of the public institutions for ease of access and efficiency. He e added that, “We shall also leverage the advantages of technology to drive State wide human capital development, economic empowerment for the youths and most importantly, job creation ”
According to the Governor, “the huge sum which the government will be investing in the critical sectors to spur economic growth, create employment opportunities and revive local businesses, particularly MSMSE that is Micro Small and Medium Scale Enterprises , we have already been engaging other members of the organized private sectors to take advantage of our business friendly policies to invest in the State”
He listed improved security, road infrastructure, regular payment of salaries, reinvigoration of the health sector, restoration of security, effective urban management, support to the economically vulnerable among other achievements speak volume that he is on a mission to restore and rebuild.
The Governor noted that a whooping 84 percent of the 2024 budget has been earmarked for capital project which includes rebuilding and remodeling of schools and hospitals as well as well as build a world class health village to stem the tide of medical tourism.
The state chief executive noted that part of the 2024 budget will also be invested in critical sectors to spur economic growth,creat employment opportunities and drive local businesses.
While describing the year 2023 as a year of watershed in the political history of the State ,Dr Otti thanked all who contributed in reshaping the political direction of the State which paved way for the fresh air being inhaled by Abians.
The State chief executive, who encouraged citizens to sustain their support by paying their taxes as well as cooperate with security agencies in the State to achieve the needed security wished Abians a happy New Year.
DIVINE NWANKWO, Asst. Head, Information/Press, Govt. House, Umuahia.