Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has called on state governors that pay pension to former governors to emulate their Abia State counterpart, Alex Otti, and stop paying.

He described payment of pension to former state governors and their deputies as outrageous.

Obasanjo also described the pension as “a daylight robbery.:

The former president stated this on Friday when he paid Otti a visit at his country home in Nvosi, Isiala Ngwa South Local Government Area of the state..

He said, “I watched the television and I saw the 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 are unpaid.

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

Commending Otti for his courage in repealing the law, Obasanjo said he hoped that other governors would follow in his footsteps.

He added, “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.

“There is still a lot of work to be done, I said to you, and here 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.”

Obasanjo urged Otti to pay attention to the infrastructural development of the state, explaining that with infrastructure and good leadership, the state will attain greater heights.

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

“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 former President added.

Receiving the former president, 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 highlighted his infrastructural development in the state and thanked the former president for supporting his government’s decision to repeal the law that empowered former governors and deputy governors to receive pensions.

He, however, stressed that the 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 PUNCH reports that the Abia State House of Assembly repealed the Abia State Governor’s and Deputy Governor’s Pensions Law number 4 of 2021.

The repealed law provided for security, medicals, cooks and stewards, among others for the former governors.

The bill titled “H.A.B 11, The Abia State Governor’s and Deputy Governor’s Pensions Law Repeal Bill 2024,” was sponsored by the Majority Leader and member for Arochukwu State Constituency, Mr Okoro Uchenna Kalu.