If We Were Owing Two to Three Months, We Expected Our Successors to Clear Them Not Increase Them – Orji to Ikpeazu
Senator Theodore Orji, the immediate-past Governor of Abia State, has responded to criticisms regarding the unpaid salary arrears owed to workers in the state. Orji, in a press statement released yesterday, called on his successor, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, to take responsibility for the backlog of unpaid salaries.
The statement comes amidst an ongoing indefinite strike by state workers demanding the resolution of their salary arrears. The workers have rejected claims made by the Secretary to the State Government, Chris Ezem, that the strike had been suspended, dismissing the information as false.
Senator Orji, represented by his Chief Liaison Officer, Hon Ifeanyi Umere, expressed surprise at the accumulation of salary arrears under the current administration. He emphasized that when he left office in 2015, civil servants were not owed any salary arrears, and parastatal workers were owed no more than four months.
Orji questioned why his successor had allowed the arrears to escalate to 40 months while pointing fingers at him. He explained that the arrears were a result of the dwindling federal allocation caused by the global economic downturn, with the state receiving insufficient funds to cover both capital and recurrent expenditures.
The former governor argued that his successor had received bailout funds from the federal government on multiple occasions, and therefore should have cleared the outstanding arrears. He further questioned why the debts had not been addressed and why core civil servants were also affected.
Meanwhile, the Labor union has urged workers to disregard the State Government’s claim that the strike had been suspended, asserting that the government does not have the authority to suspend a strike it did not declare.
As the standoff continues, workers remain resolute in their demand for the settlement of their salary arrears, and the responsibility for addressing this issue lies squarely with Governor Ikpeazu and his administration.