How an 80-year-old woman kicked me out of church for pension debt when I was governor — – Peter Obi

A former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi, has told how an 80-year-old woman forced him to clear all unpaid pensions and gratuities in the state before leaving office.

Obi served as Governor of Anambra State between 2007 and 2014 when former Governor Willie Obiano succeeded him.

“Until the day I left my post as governor, I owed no one what is called a gratuity. When I took office, they (Chris Ngige’s administration) owed people 32 billion naira,” he told Brekete Family, a popular Abuja radio show, on Wednesday.

In 2007, the state had a windfall pension and gratuity of around N35 billion.

In November 2013, Obi paid the sum of N30 billion and cleared the rest in the following months before handing over in 2014.

“When I was governor, I went to church every Sunday morning. One day I was in church and an 80 year old woman asked me to leave the church. She told me to stop praying and go,” Obi recounted.

Obi added: “The old woman, Mrs. Ndibe, came and carried my bag asking me to leave. She told me that God would not answer my prayer until I paid her gratuity and board.

“I followed the woman to her home and what she told me made me decide to clear the debts. So when I left, we didn’t owe a gratuity, we didn’t owe a pension. We didn’t owe any salary and I want you to go check that out. No contractor who did his job was beholden. No supplier who did justice to his work was accountable.

In Nigeria, paying pensions has become a major problem for state governments, many of which are in debt, according to the National Pensions Commission.

Obi said: “The police aren’t the only ones watching this. It’s everywhere. When you see the pain people go through serving their country, it’s painful. We are supposed to help them enjoy it.

“The problem of pensions affects everyone. This thing needs to be revamped. We must do better. Even the small amount, retirees are not paid. The country is supposed to have eliminated its backlog. They are older people with fewer opportunities.

Obi said the rulers continue to deny pensioners their rights and entitlements due to massive ignorance among Nigerians.

He said, “If you can’t pay salaries, you can’t pay gratuities, you go home.” It’s simple because you receive your salary. We must change. You can’t be beholden to people and you walk around with your family.

Jerry B. Hatch