Former President Olusegun Obasanjo was characteristically blunt and direct when he paid a courtesy visit to Abia State Governor, Dr. Alex Otti, OFR, Friday morning.

Chief Obasanjo commended Governor Otti for his courage in repealing the law which empowered former Governors and Deputy Governors of the State to enjoy pension and described the abolished legislation as “rascality”. He expressed the hope that other Governors would follow Governor Otti’s his footsteps.

The former President noted that pensions to the former Governors and Deputies were outrageous while those of ordinary retired workers were owed in Abia from 2014, describing the act as daylight robbery.

Addressing Governor Otti, Chief Obasanjo said: “I watched the television and I saw repealing of Abia pensions and I asked you what exactly is this, and you said to me that the pensions scheme for former Governors here was too outrageous.

“It’s like trouble because it allowed them to have a house in Abuja and elsewhere, and it allowed them to cart away with whatever they can, yet the pensions of ordinary people from 2014 were unpaid.

“What sort of leadership! You came and said there will be an end to that rascality. I congratulate you, and I say to you, I hope that your colleagues will follow your footsteps?”

Chief Obasanjo congratulated Governor Otti for his tenacity and for weathering the storm to become Abia Governor and reminded him that a lot of work needed to be done.

“I say congratulations. Congratulations for your tenacity, congratulations for your not giving up, congratulations for your weathering the storm and congratulations for what you did yesterday (signing the repealing of pension law for former Governors and Deputy Governors) and congratulations for what I found you doing this morning (exercise).

“This morning, I came in and I met you exercising, a sound mind and a sound body and I say to you, now I know your secret. I was glad when you said you do that every other day. It’s just like me playing squash on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, I think a leader must keep himself or herself in a healthy condition,” he said.

He added: “There are still a lot of work to be done, I said to you. You have started, but you should never be tired. Don’t be discouraged; you will be abused, you will be called names but if we have one third of our states doing what should be done, this country will be a different country.”

The former President urged Governor Otti to pay attention to infrastructural development of the State, explaining that with infrastructure and good leadership the State will attain greater heights.

According to him, Abia and the South East people are industrious and enterprising, adding that what the people of the zone require to achieve greatness is good leadership that will give them encouragement and support.

“I will urge you to pay adequate attention to infrastructure, because if you give infrastructure and you give the type of leadership you are giving, the people of the state will have nothing to worry about. On their own they are enterprising. All they need is the leadership that will give them all the encouragement.

“I have always maintained that if there is any zone in this country that could really give what I call regional development, it’s the South East geo-political zone, because you are almost monolithic in everything,” the foremost living Nigerian statesman admonished.

Receiving the former President, Governor Otti assured him that his administration was focused and single-minded on infrastructural development, especially in Aba, as that is at the core of all that is required.

He disclosed that his government had in the last nine months completed and commissioned 10 roads in Aba, while 31 other roads are at different stages of completion.

“In the last nine months, we’ve completed and commissioned 10 roads in Aba, and at the moment, we have about 31 roads that are in different stages of construction and completion. The last one was flagged off two days ago; the Ozuabam to Arochukwu through Ndiokereke, and Okobo bridge. It’s a 30.1-kilometer road and that road has not been used in the last several decades. It connects Arochukwu to the rest of Abia state.

“We also have a 67.4-kilometer road we commissioned a few weeks ago that connects Umuahia through Uzuakoli and terminates at Ohafia,” the Governor enumerated.

Governor Otti thanked the former President for supporting his government’s decision to repeal the law that empowered former Governors and Deputy Governors to receive pensions, stressing that cost of governance is a major problem for every State and the Federal Government.

“I agree with you completely on your comment about infrastructure, that is why we are very focused and single-minded in developing infrastructure particularly for Aba, which is the commercial and industrial hub of the state, and actually the South East.

“I want to also thank you for supporting our decision to repeal the Pension law for former Governors and former Deputy Governors. I had said yesterday as I signed the bill into law that I strongly believe that leadership is stewardship and if you’ve come to serve the people, you can’t at the same time be fleecing the people,” the Governor declared.

The former President was accompanied on the visit by Ms Adewunmi Osagie, MD Ocean City, Lagos; Ambassador Okey Emuche, Otumba Oyewole Fasawe, and Barrister Kingsley Ononuju.

Chief Press Secretary to the Governor
Abia State
Government House, Umuahia
March 22, 2024.

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