Two pensioners slump during protests
Two out of the hundreds of protesting pensioners in Benue State slumped while on a peaceful demonstration to the Government House to press home their demand for the payment of 10 months pension arrears owed them.
The pensioners were however immediately revived by some of their colleagues.Most of the pensioners were seen carrying different placards with inscriptions such as, ‘Ortom pay us our 10 months pension arrears’; ‘Governor, we are dying because we no longer buy our drugs’; ‘we cannot pay our children’s school fees’; and ‘pay us our bailout’. Some others were seen carrying green leaves chanting songs of humiliation and rejection.
The spokesperson for the aggrieved pensioners Mr. Peter Kyado, said they are living in penury as they no longer enjoy food, shelter, clothing, and medication due to the non-payment of their entitlements for several years; even as they described their treatment as wicked, unconstitutional and irresponsible.
“As senior citizens, we gave our very best to our state, country and humanity; we deserve respect and timely release of our retirements benefits as of rights as contained in the 1999 Constitution.”
While urging the government to settle their outstanding gratuities, through appropriate financial instruments such as bonds, treasury bills, or bank outright purchase of the debt; the protesting pensioners also want their case to be put on first line charge, to ensure regular and timely payment of their monthly pensions.
She said for the Nigeria economy to be in place like other foreign countries, there is need to encourage our local industries rather than importation, which is one the primary purpose of CIBN bankers Nite.
They equally called for increase in pension allowances that have not been harmonised from 2001 to 2010.But neither the Governor Samuel Ortom, nor his Deputy, Engr. Benson Abounu, was on hand to address the protesting pensioners, and was represented by the Acting Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Dr. Bem Melladu, who assured them that the process for the payment of pension arrears was ongoing.
Melladu explained that the Ministry of Finance was already putting in place all the necessary procedures to commence the payment, adding that all pensioners will be paid within the next two weeks.
Also corroborating the SSG, the Finance Commissioner, Mr David Olofu, explained that the government had commenced the procedures to clear the outstanding arrears in the state, saying that government had agreed to set aside N400 million monthly outside the normal monthly pensions.
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