Pensioners Storm Owerri Again …Demand pay and say no to forfeiting 60% of it
Christmas and New Year rice didn’t make any difference as pensioners had none. For the 3rd time, pensioners in Imo State last Thursday blocked traffic in Owerri to make clear their point and to demand that government pays their arrears of pensions and gratuities.
“As at December 2016 the State is owing Imo pensioners between 22 months and 77 months arrears of pensions.Our gratuities have remained unpaid since 1998 till date. Also the Government has refused to harmonise our pensions since 2000 to date” said Chief G.U. Ezeji, chairman Nigeria Union of Pensioners, Imo State in a press release.
To their chagrin, “the latest Government plan to pay 40% of the accumulated arrears of pensions and gratuities and forfeiting 60%” is absolutely unacceptable.
“We say no to this latest Government plan to deny us the payment of 60% of arrears up to December, 2016” the statement continued.
They see as ridiculous Government’s plan to operate a fresh pension scheme from January 2017.
“Let me use this medium to inform the Governor that the review and fixing of new pension rates are done by the appropriate Federal Government Institution and not by any State Government” said Chief G.U. Ezeji.
The press release called “on the state Governor to use the office of the Accountant General of the State in the payment of civil pensioners. In the same direction the office of the Chairman, Local Government Pensions Board should oversee the payment of Local Government Pensioners and retired Primary school teachers. Once this is done, the present confusion created by Government in using political appointees in the payment of the pensioners will be a thing of the past”.
The pensioners called on Government to restore normalcy in the pension administration of the state.
“Issues of pension are under exclusive list as enshrined in the constitution of the Federal Republic, therefore states lack power to draw any blue print on pension and gratuities” said Evangelist Ashiegbu, one of the protesters.
Dr. Ofoegbu Edmund, a pensioner and one of the protesters frowned at the state government spending on frivolities while civil servants and pensioners are dying of hunger. “Staggering sum of money was spent in a carnival graced by former President Olusegun Obasanjo and the president-elect of Ghana Nana Kuffor Ado” he said.
The pensioners vowed to continue their protests until they were paid 100% of their entitlements.