Cross River retirees protest over unpaid gratuities, pension
Angry retirees, yesterday, took to the streets of Calabar, the capital of Cross River State, protesting alleged non-payment of their gratuities and pensions for eight years.
The ex-workers from the state civil service, under the aegis of the Nigerian Union of Pensioners (NUP), barricaded the Governor’s Office gate, carrying placards with different inscriptions such as “Gov. Ayade pay us our pension from 2013 till date” and “Pensioners are dying everyday due to non payment of pensions and gratuities.”
The organised labour has been on indefinite strike for 24 days over the same issue and others.
On Thursday, in it’s strike bulletin, Labour queried the application of the two tranches of bailout funds and Paris Club refunds of over N30 billion by the state government.
The state chairman of NUP, Dr. Eyo Eyo, who spoke on behalf of the retirees, said: “We have come to see our governor, to tell him that Imoke paid pension and gratuity up to July 2013. From August 2013 till date, nobody has been paid. Those of us that retired in 2014, in addition to part of those who were not paid in 2013, down the line to 2021 have not been paid our gratuity and pension.
Those that are going to retire will come and join us.
“Irrespective of the fact that some people have long legs that they can go and say pay me my own, I am saying that 99 per cent, from 2013 to 2021, have not been paid pension and gratuity.
“For pension, it will surprise you to know that some persons here are paid N3,000 monthly, some N7,000 and some N12,000. This thing we call pension is nothing to write home about. Those in Union Bank have not been paid. There has not been any harmonised pension. None of us standing here earns more than N25, 000 yet we have not been paid.”
Further lamenting the plight of the pensioners, Eyo said that most of their children who had graduated from schools had no jobs and some of the ex-workers were bed ridden while others had fallen victims of preventable deaths. . “We are going to wait for him to finish the meeting and come out. Let him come and meet us, even if they want to come and kill us. As we are standing, all of us will die here,” Eyo said.
Addressing the protesters, the Permanent Secretary, Governor’s Office, Dr. Alfred Nboto, said he understood their plights but pleaded with them to allow him take their demands to the governor.
“I came and saw you my mothers and my fathers. Truly speaking, I know that you had wanted to see the governor directly, but right now as we speak, he is in a meeting at the House of Assembly.
“Truly I have seen your plight, and I can say that nobody will see this and not understand that you are in pain. But I am assuring you that we will do everything possible to address your demands. The issue of pension affects all of us. I have a few years left to join you. Anybody who sees you this way and is not supporting the payment of retirees’ entitlements, I do not think that person is reasonable.
“The truth is that government is doing everything possible to make sure that the pension and gratuities are paid. I will take all I have seen here to him when he comes back,” Nboto appealed.