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Abia State Worker Welfare: Challenges, Commitments, and Future Prospects

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Abia State: Protests, Media Attacks, Propaganda and the things to come

The complexities of worker welfare in Abia State, political agendas and genuine concerns amidst protests. Governor Alex  Otti’s commitment to timely salary payments contrasts with past administrations’ failures, despite challenges. Amidst political exploitation,  the government’s resilience against blackmail and its pledge to resolve economic hardships. Optimistically, affirming Abians’ trust in leadership and prospects for a better future, the narrative Dodoh Okafor, Senior Special Assistant to Governor Alex Otti on Public Communication.

1. A good cause can be muddled up in bad politics. The welfare of workers should be the priority of any government. Whether it is the payment of salaries and other entitlements, people should be paid what is due them when it is due.
2. Gov. Alex C. Otti has consistently harped on this, echoing the position of the Holy Bible that a worker is worthy of his wages.
3. Sadly, the men who ruled Abia before now had a different idea. Payment of workers’ entitlements was always an afterthought.
4. So you find some establishments where workers were owed for 11, 25 and 33 months. Strangely, those who suffered this grave injustice kept mute, restricting themselves to silent murmurs on WhatsApp platforms.
5. With the coming of the present administration, they believed, like all of us, that the injustice of yesterday would be corrected and that payment of salaries would become regular.
6. True to his philosophy, Gov. Otti has kept faith with his promise and philosophy. But in line with human nature, we always want more. So the workers wanted their arrears accumulated over an 8 year period cleared in 12 months.
7. It was a legitimate expectation. It is their money. But there is also the need to understand that everything cannot be taken at once.
8. The Governor also has a commitment to fix roads and meet his obligation as chief security officer of the State among other responsibilities.
9. If all our dear Governor achieves is to pay salaries, he will be judged a failure by the majority. But salaries he will still pay.
10. Not wanting to miss the chance to push their agenda, the politicians in the room saw an opportunity in the silent agitations by the workers for the immediate rectification of an age old challenge.
11. These political actors wanted to unsettle the government. The incitement began on social media platforms, them moved to the radio stations, in fact, they took over the radio stations.
12. “Otti is owing us for 100 months, he must pay us; Government is a continuum.”
13. When their blackmail yielded nothing they moved to the streets, with music and placards in tow.
14. A matter that should have been resolved through honest and consistent engagement suddenly became a political agitation. “We will destroy the Government, Otti will not win a second term.”
15. Well, Gov. Otti cannot be blackmailed by threats of second term and electoral outcomes when the mandate he presently enjoys will run for 3 more long years.
16. Governor Otti, to be clear, is not a leader anyone can hold hostage. His judgement will always be driven by fairness and a sense of balance.
17. And make no mistake: Gov. Otti has remained consistent in paying employees of the State Government.
18. Workers in the State are paid by the 28th of every month, except when there are challenges pushing the funds from the banks to the respective bank accounts of the individuals, or as in the case of the state owned tertiary institutions in the last 2 months, when there is a migration from an old system to a new platform.
19. Even then, the point must be made that these funds have since been released and lodged into the various banks. Payments can be made with a punch of the button the minute all the parameters are in place.
20. Putting the necessary parameters in place is the responsibility of the relevant officers in the institutions.
21. On the outstanding arrears from the Okezie Ikpeazu era, the Governor continues to express his willingness to pay, on defined instalments. This is a promise keeping government and no genuine worker will be shortchanged.
22. On the issue of wage awards, salary increment and all, the Governor has also promised that nothing is off the table and as soon as a headway is made in the minimum wage negotiations, Abia will be amongst the first to pay.
23. The State Government understands that things are quite hard with inflation making nonsense of whatever funds are in the pockets and bank accounts of many individuals.
24. It is expected that the inflation headwind will be tamed in time and remedy found to the severe economic hardship in the land.
25. In the end, we are all victims of the present economic crisis.
26. So what are the takeaways from the noise and misplaced anger of the last few weeks:
a. You cannot blackmail a popular, sincere government. It will not work here. There is a reason Dr. Alex Otti was elected governor on at least 2 occasions between 2015 and 2013.
b. Don’t introduce politics to a good cause. It will raise suspicion and muddy up the waters. The recent agitations by several unions in the State proves this.
c. Abians are not ready to gamble again. They have found their right leader.
d. There is hope. What lies ahead is a lot bigger than what was lost. We shall overcome.
Ka udo chia…

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