Otu moves to clear N24bn gratuities owed retirees in Cross River

Gov. Bassey Otu of Cross River, is consolidating plans to clear the N24 billion worth of gratuities owed retirees in the state.

The gratuities date back eight years ago.

Otu disclosed this on Saturday in Calabar during an engagement with journalists to give account of his stewardship in his first 100 days in office.

The governor, who asserted that the state could not forget the labours of its heroes past, said the backlog of money owed retirees in the state was nothing to be proud of.

According to him, the saddest part of the whole scenario is that some of the retirees were dying without getting what they had laboured for.

“As of today, we are owing our retirees N24 billion in terms of gratuities and the way I am looking at the economy in both the state and the nation, this is not an amount of money that can be easily achieved in terms of payment.

“So, we have asked the State House of Assembly to come up with a contributory pension scheme bill and we have gotten some of the strongest banks in the nation to clear the N24 billion.

“However, the labour union in the state is insisting that they don’t want to be part of that scheme because according to them, some of their members who were enlisted in such schemes in the past were not being paid,” he said.

Otu maintained that they would go back to the drawing board to see why some of their members were not being paid.

The governor said the state was investing in security in order to ensure that people go about their businesses without fear of harassment.

He said the state had acquired a gadget that is yet to arrive with the capacity to identify hideouts of kidnappers and unscrupulous elements in the state.

“We are not going to play with insecurity because anybody who denies someone his freedom, we will make sure his/her own freedom is denied.

“When I came into power, we allowed an amnesty window which was for people to turn in their arms and change, some did but some rejected that window, so, we had to come down hard on the situation.

“We imposed a curfew in Akpabuyo and Bakassi Local Government Areas and today gradually, people of those areas can sleep with their two eyes closed.

“While we would continue to work tirelessly to ensure that the state is secure, we crave the support of our citizens, so that bad eggs would be identified and taken out,” he added.

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