Abia: Automatic promotion to workers not captured in 2023 budget – Lawmaker

By Leonard Okachie
 A lawmaker in Abia, Chief Obinna Ichita, has said that the 2023 Appropriation Act passed by the state House of Assembly did not capture the State Government’s automatic promotion to Local Government workers.
Ichita, representing Aba South State Constituency, made the disclosure during an interactive session with newsmen in Umuahia on Friday.
He was reacting to the automatic promotion announced by Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu during a meeting with civil servants in the state on Thursday.
He said: “The automatic promotion to Local Government workers coming barely by one week to the election is a mere subterfuge.
“There are workers who are owed up to 36 months salary arrears and never enjoyed any promotion for many years under Ikpeazu’s administration.
“The governor has not paid workers allowance and other entitlements since he assumed office in 2015.
“Therefore, the announcement is deceptive and cannot fly.
“Also, there is no provision in the 2023 budget to cover the salaries for the promotion.
“If he was genuine, he would have increased the provision for recurrent expenditure for us to assume that he planned to promote workers.”
Ichita further described the governor’s gesture as “an insult on the collective sensibility of our people.
“It shows that he thinks that the workers are fools to be carried away by his unrealistic promise,” he said.
He, therefore, advised the workers to ignore the pronouncement and take it as one of the governor’s phoney promises.
“He promised to build Enyimba Economic City, Education City at Owerrinta, reconstruction of Ahiaohuru and Ariaria markets in Aba before the end of 2021.
“He also promised an underground tunnel at Ifeobara Pond and revitalisation of the education and health sectors but all these and many others have remained unfulfilled,” he said.
The lawmaker also took a swipe at the governor for not paying attention to critical roads in some parts of Aba, including the Port Harcourt Road, which he started but abandoned midway.
He also listed the Omuma Road, Obuohia Road and Ohanku Road, among the deplorable roads in the commercial city begging for attention.
He similarly expressed concern over the dilapidation of the Abia State University Teaching Hospital, Aba, saying that the only functional unit at facility was the mortuary.
Ichita, who is the APGA Deputy Governorship Candidate, also spoke about the prospects of the party in the March 18 polls.
He said that the party, which bears the Igbo identity, was fully acceptable to the people of the state.
“APGA will win the governorship poll overwhelmingly because our people believe in us,” he said.
He also described the party’s Governorship Candidate, Prof. Greg Ibe, as the candidate to beat.
According to him, Ibe is the highest single private employer of labour with a huge investment in education in the state.
“Others take their investments to  other cities because they say that there is no significant return on investment in Abia,” Ichita said.
He also said that beyond building a university, the Gregory University, Uturu, Ibe was also making substantial contribution to the health sector through his free medical and surgery services to the people.
He expressed joy over Wednesday’s  Supreme Court judgment that affirmed Ibe’s candidacy for the election.
He said that with the judgment, the  judiciary acquitted itself as the last hope of the common man and respecter of no person.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Ibe’s emergence from the party’s primary was challenged by three other governorship  aspirants.
They included Chief Etigwe Uwa (SAN), Mr Chikwe Udensi and Gen. Ijioma Ijioma (rtd.) (NAN)