Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP), Imo state chapter, staged a mass protest on Tuesday over non-payment of their pensions for upwards of 71 months by the state government.
The retirees used the opportunity to draw President Muhammadu Buhari’s attention to the disrespect for pensioners by the Imo state government, noting that, ‘Non-payment of pension is corruption.’
Briefing newsmen, the NUP Chairman, Chief Gideon Ezeji lamented that pensioners in the state have never experienced the level of abandonment and hardship they are facing under the Governor Rochas Okorocha administration.
On the claim by the state House of Assembly that part of the problems of the pensioners was huge pension burden inherited from previous administration, Ezeji dismissed the assertion as untrue and unfair.
He explained: “When Chief Achike Udenwa was governor, pensions were paid though not comprehensively. It was the same for Ikedi Ohakim. When Ohakim left office, civil pensioners were being owed only two months pension while local government workers were owed three months. Today, Civil pensioners are owed 13-16 months as at May, 2016; Local Government pensioners, 14-17 months; retired primary school teachers, 23-26 months; Imo Broadcasting Corporation pensioners, 36 months, and Alvan Ikoku College of Education pensioners, 68-71 months. It is indeed outrageous, how senior citizens are treated in Imo state today.”
Chairman of the Association of Retired Permanent Secretaries, Chief Fabián Agba lamented the impunity of the state government and said, “We cannot fight corruption without obedience to the constitution and laws of the land unless we want to foster anarchy. The resurgence in militancy and other armed agitations may not be unconnected to the fact that constitutionalism has been set aside by government and the process of law jettisoned.”
He stated that, “When a governor refuses to pay pensions, he has breached the constitution he vowed to uphold. As elders, we have observed that some of our governors are apparently teaching the youths of this nation how not to be law-abiding.”