By Leonard Okachie
Umuahia, March 30, 2023
Hundreds of Abia retirees on Thursday danced through the major streets of Umuahia, clad in all white, in celebration of the election of Dr Alex Otti of the Labour Party (LP) as Governor.
The jubilant senior citizens, including the strong and frail-looking men and women, displayed placards, expressing their happiness over the outcome of the governorship poll in the state.
They took off from the Sub-treasury on Bende Road and ended their march at the Alex Otti Campaign Office on the Bank Road, singing and dancing.
The pensioners, operating under the aegis of Concerned Abia Pensioners, became the cynosure of residents, who had always identified them with black attire.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the pensioners had always dressed in all black, especially to protest their 45-months unpaid pension arrears and gratuities.
In a speech, the Coordinator of the group, Chief Emeka Okezie, said they were rejoicing over the election of the LP candidate, hence their all-white attire.
“We have not dressed like this for many years rather we dress in all black as mourners because the outgoing government could not pay our pensions and gratuities.
“Today, we decided to wear white and dance round the town to celebrate with our governor-elect and show our joy and solidarity,” Okezie said.
The group also expressed confidence that Otti would address their plight.
“Today is a remarkable day in the lives of Abia pensioners because it has taken so long that we began to yearn for a change.
“God has answered our prayers and earnest desire.
“We love our governor-elect because he is a man of God.
“We know that he will fulfill his campaign promise to pay the backlog of our pension arrears.
“We promise to support his administration from May 29, when he will be sworn in,” Okezie said.
Responding, Otti thanked the pensioners for their show of love for him and solidarity over his electoral victory.
Otti, represented by the Secretary of his Campaign Council, Mr. Okey Kanu, also thanked them for trusting and believing in him, which they showed by their massive turnout to vote for him and all the LP candidates.
He reaffirmed his promise to liquidate the arrears of salaries and pensions owed to them within the first six months of his assumption of office.