Okezie Ikpeazu, governor of Abia, has denied claims that his administration is owing salaries and pensions of workers in the state.
Speaking on Thursday in an interview with Channels Television, Ikpeazu said salaries of “core” civil servants in the state were paid as and when due.
Recently, Alex Otti, the Abia governor-elect, accused Ikpeazu of owing workers’ salaries and refusing to pay pensioners for many months in the state.
Otti was the candidate of the Labour Party (LP) in the March 18 governorship election.
In November 2022, pensioners under the aegis of concerned Abia pensioners protested 45 months of unpaid pensions by the state government.
Reacting to the development, the Abia governor said payment of pensions in the state has been an issue in the past 24 years, adding that his administration met a backlog of unpaid salaries and pensions.
Ikpeazu said payment of salaries of 29,000 workers out of 31,000 civil servants in the state is “up-to-date”, adding that the remaining 2,000 workers are working for parastatals.
He added that since parastatals are generating revenue for the state, their workers should be paid by the agencies and not the state government.
“I do not pay their salaries because they are revenue-generating agencies of the government,” he said.
“I don’t run away from responsibilities. The issue of pension has been there perennially since the past 24 years.
“I did as much as I could do. This administration passed through three recessions. When I came into office, within three months of my administration, I paid 11 months’ arrears of salaries.
“For somebody to come and make a sweeping statement that salaries are not being paid, that is a lie.
“I’m not owing any core civil servant any salary.”
Asked what he felt about leaving office, the Abia governor said he was having great relief about exiting office in the next two months.
“Great relief! I’m relieved that I’m leaving the office. I have to get on to other things. I have been on this job for eight years,” he said.
The outgoing governor contested for the Abia south district senatorial seat but was defeated by Enyinnaya Abaribe, the incumbent, who ran on the platform of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA).