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February 24, 2017

We are Dying Slowly, Imo Pensioners Cry Out … Advise Okorocha to top ill timed projects

Some pensioners in Imo State receive a monthly stipend of two thousand Naira (N2000), yet they have to wait indefinitely and sometimes go through hell to get paid. Some of them are dead and many are slowly dying.

This is why retired workers in the state are collectively crying out again to Governor Okorocha to pay their pensions and stop embarking on expensive and ill-timed projects, which only create more misery and confusion.

A joint statement issued by the Association of Retired Permanent Secretaries of Imo State and the Nigeria Union of Pensioners lamented the unfair situation.

“As at now, Government of Imo State has bluntly refused to harmonise our pensions based on Federal Government 6 per cent award of 2003, 15 per cent award of 2007 and 33 per cent award of 2011. It is unbelievable that many Imo pensioners are receiving N2000 monthly which has remained unpaid by Government of Imo State,” the pensioners said.

“We advice the Imo State Government to stop embarking on unviable projects that do not add to the welfare of the people, while the people are starving to death,” The Association of Permanent Secretaries added in a separate release.

They said Government’s road projects were ill-conceived and poorly constructed, especially the tunnels in the state capital, which had turned into pools of water.

“The unfortunate widening of roads, demolition of private and public buildings, and the destruction of means of livelihood of the people in this austere period, has reduced the tax base of the state and brought untold hardship to the people of Imo State,” they added.

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The permanent secretaries refuted Government claims that it had defrayed arrears of outstanding pensions with the sum of N12.2 billion naira.

“The state Government had in the so-called exercise paid only 70 per cent of one month out of the outstanding arrears of between 16-70 months owed different categories of pensioners. The Pension of a public servant is calculated on 80 per cent of the retiree’s last salary. Consequently, the so-called 70 per cent of one month represents about 50 per cent of the pensioner’s entitlement,” the Perm. Secs. said.

They stated that the non payment of pensions and gratuities was illegal, adding that the continued delay of pensions by state government amounted to forced loan from the pensioners and should attract interest.

According to the pensioners, it was after their peaceful demonstration on June 15, 2016 that the Government paid them one month’s salary based on 70 percent and that was in August. However majority of pensioners were not paid. They therefore called on Government to pay those omitted, and further disclosed that their pension arrears ranged from two to five years:  Civil pensioners are owned 20 months pensions to date, permanent secretaries 20 months, retired primary school teachers 30 months, local government pensioners 21 months, Imo Broadcasting Corporation (IBC) 40 months and Alvan Ikoku College of Education, the worst hit, 75 months, that is, prior to Federal Government takeover of the institution.

The Pensioners listed 12 legacies heritage demolished by the Okorocha administration, including Mbari Cultural Center. FSP Recreation complex etc. “it is bizarre to note that this government that has stupendous money to destroy all those multi-billion naira public infrastructure finds it difficult to pay pensioners in the state”.

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