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Benue retirees besiege Government House over payment arrears

By Joseph Wantu (Makurdi) and Charles Ogugbuaja (Owerri)
05 September 2019   |   3:23 am
Hundreds of pensioners yesterday besieged the entrance gate to Government House, Makurdi, Benue State over non-payment of 25 months pension arrears and gratuity.

Imo pensions panel submits report, flays past records

Hundreds of pensioners yesterday besieged the entrance gate to Government House, Makurdi, Benue State over non-payment of 25 months pension arrears and gratuity.

The angry pensioners were sighted carrying placards bearing various inscription as Ortom, Pay Us Our 25 Months Pension Arrears And Gratuity; Ortom, Enough Is Enough and Governor Ortom Has Been Out Of Benue State For Three Weeks In USA And Japan, among others.

They appealed to President Muhamnadu Buhari to help Benue Pensioners, saying they were dying in silence in their own country.

The retirees also urged Governor Ortom to create Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps for pensioners in the state, noting that their deaths on daily basis were due to the inability to pay their medical bills.

Leader of the pensioners, Comrade Peter Ikyado, who lamented that the governor ignored elderly people who have rendered selfless service to their fatherland to die in silence, noted that they have not committed any crime by retiring.

Another pensioner said as much as pensioners could not afford to sponsor their children to school in China, Governor Ortom should pay them their pensions and gratuity so they could sponsor their children to attend school in Benue.

He also questioned why the Governor found it difficult to pay their pensions and gratuity in spite of the yearly budgetary provision in the state’s budget for them.

But in its reaction, Chief Press secretary to the governor, Tever Akase, said Ortom was fully committed to the welfare of senior citizens and appealed to the pensioners to trust the assurances the governor gave them through the Deputy Governor and Head of Service recently.

However, at the time of filing this report, some of the pensioners confirmed that they have started receiving an alert for a one-month arrear.

Meanwhile, Imo State panel on payment of pensions of all retirees chaired by Evans Uzokwe, a former Head of Service, yesterday, submitted its report to the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Uche Onyeagucha.

It decried the difficulty its members passed through to obtain a record of past pensions payment to the state’s retirees just as it submitted that only biometric data capturing and verification would resolve the issues.

Sequel to this, the retirees’ verification exercise began yesterday across the 27 council areas, except in Owerri Municipal where it commenced at Government College, Owerri and at the Civic Centre, Oguta for Oguta Council Area.

“We found it unbelievable that after an intensive search, we could not lay hands on any list or record with which the last administration paid pensions. Therefore, only data capturing as embarked upon by the government will solve the problem,” he stated.

Receiving the report, Onyeagucha commended the committee for promptly delivering on its terms of reference, assuring that the state government would use the facts so far uncovered to redress the situation.