By Anayo Okoli
Umuahia — ABIA State governor, Chief Theodore Orji, has threatened to drag striking lecturers of the state university, ABSU, Uturu, to the Arbitration Panel, if they failed to accept the offer given by the state government.
Orji said the government had accepted to pay the lecturers 100 per cent increment but that the point of dispute was the issue of arrears to be paid the lecturers.
Speaking at the golden jubilee celebration of the Immaculate Conception Seminary, Ahiaeke, Umuahia weekend, Governor Orji also announced that he had set up a committee to advise government on the handover of mission schools to their former owners.
Orji, who called on the church to intervene in the face-off between the state government and the lecturers, disclosed that South East governors had each agreed to discuss with the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, adding that they had made appreciable progress.
“I have given them 100% increase but they said I will pay arrears. I gave them 100% and asked them to go back to school and we commence the payment in January 2011.
“But they are asking for arrears. I said if we will pay the arrears, then we give them 50% increase, they said no.
“We made more concession. I said I will pay the arrears from August, and if they don’t accept this, we go the Arbitration Panel. They said they would go and consult their people. This is where we are now,” Orji told the gathering.
On the handover of schools to owners, the governor said managing the schools was becoming too cumbersome for the government, saying as soon as the committee submited its report, government would act on it immediately.
Earlier in his speech, the Catholic Bishop of Umuahia, Dr. Lucius Ugorji, commended the governor for restoring security in the state and wondered where the people of the state would have been by now if the spate of crime had continued.
He also commended the governor for his support to the Catholic church in the state.
Notable persons in Abia State, including Catholic Bishop emeritus, Gregory Ochiagha, Bishop Lucius Ugorji, and APGA governorship aspirant, Ochiagha Reagan Ufomba, among others, were honoured at the ceremony.