Abia pensioners seek government’s intervention over unpaid gratuity, others
Pensioners under the aegis of Abia State Council of Civil and Public Service Pensioners Association (ASCCPSPA), has marched to Government House in Umuahia, to complain about their continued neglect, and denial of their pension and gratuity.
In a six-point grievance, which they read out titled, “the endemic neglect of Pensioners in Abia State of Nigeria,” they demanded to know the crime the pensioners had committed that made the state government to treat them like second class citizens. They insisted that their conditions have become unimaginable and unbearable.
The group’s Spokesman, Comrade Emmanuel Okparanta, said the pensioners, who served the state for 35 years are dying on daily basis as a result of delayed payment of pension and gratuity. “Abia State Government should pay us our entitlements, which we simply deserve; starvation is a crime against humanity.”
They claimed that while their unpaid gratuity accumulated for 18 years, there is a total of 49 months backlog of unpaid pension, adding that for they had not been paid since January this year.
They claimed they were not also paid the whole of 2013, while eight months were in arrears in 2014, 10 months in 2015, and nine months in 2016, adding that there was non-harmonisation of pensions from 1998 to 2010 in the state, such that the least paid pensioner still receives N500.00 per month.
In the absence of the State Governor Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, whom the Pensioners had marched to the Government House to meet with, his Principal Secretary, Emma Nwabuko, commended them for their peaceful protest, and pledged to deliver the import of their visit to the Governor.
He said it has been the disposition of Governor Ikpeazu to pay workers’ salaries and benefits as at when due, including pension and gratuity but that he was being constrained by paucity of funds.
A top state government official however told The Guardian that delayed payment of pensioners did not start with Governor Ikpeazu, hence all governments before him, both military and civilian, owed salaries and pensions. “Governor Ikpeazu would not have manufactured funds to pay all arrears so soon after he assumed duty as governor. I also know that he has paid some pensions since he assumed duty about two years ago, and pledged to pay more.”
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, he asked the Pensioners to rather pray for more releases of the Paris Club refunds to states by the Federal Government, and challenged the pensioners to truly assert that it is only in Abia State that workers and pensioners were being owed.
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