By Emma Acha
Gov. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State on Sunday expressed worry over the huge pension and gratuity burden successive administrations had been battling with since the state’s creation.
Ugwuanyi spoke at a forum of the Correspondents’ Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Enugu.
The governor said that the state had the highest pension burden in the South East Zone.
He said that the status of Enugu as the headquarters of former Eastern Region and old Anambra as well as other financial challenges contributed to the pension burden.
“ The effect of pension and gratuities on us are so high and more than any other state in the region and this arises from the status of the Coal City as the headquarters of the former eastern region.
“ Today, there is no money to meet some of these obligations and many more but the masses do not want to hear that,” Ugwuanyi said.
The governor said that the state had some of the worst rural road networks, adding that more than 47 communities are largely inaccessible due to absence of link roads, culverts and bridges.
Ugwuanyi said that the landscape of most of the rural communities was so bad that the people in the affected areas do not bury their dead during the rainy season.
“There are several communities in the state that have not seen earth moving equipment for road construction in the past 40 years.
“Most local government areas are finding it difficult to pay salaries not to talk of construction of roads, but in all of these challenges, we are grateful to God,” he said.
Ugwuanyi said that his administration was ready to face the challenges and provide good link roads across the state.
He described the media as a major development partner since the inception of his administration.
Ugwuanyi said that his administration was not unmindful of the expectations from the masses, adding that payment of salaries was now the major indicator of governance in the face of the current hardship.
“I thank you for your support and for giving us the platform for development and I pray that in the discharge of our duties we will not be charged with actions we cannot defend,” he said.