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Dr. Alex Otti, the Governor of Abia State, seized the moment while delivering a lecture at the 63rd Founders Day Lecture series of the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), which was held at the Princess Alexandra Auditorium and Unity Hall.
He voiced his ambition to initiate discussions with his counterparts in the South East geographical zone to broaden the scope of scholarships available to a multitude of gifted students in the region.
In his Lecture titled : ‘Petroleum Subsidy Removal; Dealing with the Challenges, harnessing the opportunities’ Otti asserted that it won’t be the only means of cushioning effects of the subsidy removal by the federal government, but also be seen as a way of encouraging learning.
According to him, ‘Nothing must stand in the way of the education of our young people because we shall be doomed if we compromise any further on our investments in quality education. I don’t just mean funding the desperation to acquire certificates but something more holistic as what this university has been doing for 63 years. Education is something we must take even more serious.’
Furthermore, Dr. Otti took the opportunity to announce his plans for the revival of the Abia State Scholarship Board and the allocation of scholarships and bursaries to Abia students enrolled in different higher education institutions throughout the country.
The governor stated that his administration is in the process of introducing measures to elevate the living standards of Abia’s employees, taking into account the economic changes triggered by the discontinuation of fuel subsidies.
Included in these measures is a plan to establish a structure for the disbursement of transport allowances to civil servants and an increase in the salaries of civil servants by a specific percentage, starting this month.
These initiatives are aimed at alleviating the impact of mounting inflation and ensuring the financial stability of civil servants in the face of existing economic hardships.
He pointed out that this measure will go a long way in lessening the economic strains caused by the removal of fuel subsidies.
The governor also shared that preparations are in motion to boost the current salaries of civil servants by a specific percentage. This action is aimed at offsetting the harsh impact of the rising inflation and ensuring their resilience during the ongoing economic challenges.
Governor Otti acknowledged that his administration had previously provided a tax exemption to micro, small, and medium enterprises, empowering them to address the challenges stemming from the subsidy removal.
The governor highlighted that the government’s focus has been on simplifying the revenue collection process to enhance efficiency, eliminate double taxation, and establish an independent system that reduces the involvement of middlemen.
In his statement, Governor Otti reaffirmed his commitment to road rehabilitation and reconstruction, with the ultimate objective of attracting greater investments in the state. This, he expects, will lead to increased employment opportunities for the youth and an expansion of business possibilities for MSMES.
‘The ultimate agenda is to systematically improve the investment climate in Abia so that the environment does not sabotage the efforts of our entrepreneurs who pass through severe difficulties to remain in business,’ he said.
The state Governor further said that the planned launch of N10 billion MSME Fund as announced in his inaugural speech is still on course while modalities to accessing the fund will soon be unfolded.
‘The target shall be existing and intending entrepreneurs with innovative and bankable ideas, the present government in Abia is businees-friendly and the grand plan is to make Abia the leading MSME hub in all of Africa,’ he noted.