Delta pensioners protest arrears of unpaid entitlements
Pensioners in Delta State celebrated this year’s Workers’ Day protesting through the main streets in Asaba over denial of their pension and gratuities by the state government.
The protesters made their grievances known through inscriptions on various placards they brandished, some of which read: “Okowa Pay Us Our Harmonization”; “Are Retirees Not in the Prosperity Agenda” (a play on Okowa campaign mantra of prosperity to all Deltans); “PFA Pay Lump Sum to Retirees and Not 25 percent”, among others.
The senior citizens who enlivened their protest march with vociferous rendition of solidarity songs rounded off their procession at Government House on Anwai Road, where the Chief of Staff, Mr. Tam Brisibe, addressed them.
Outlining their complaints through the spokesman of Association of Contributory Retirees (ACR), Mr. Vincent Nkenchor, the retirees lamented that most of their colleagues numbering over 5, 000 were suffering untold hardship.
They blamed their plight five years after they retired on the failure of the state government to use 5 percent of monthly wage bill of employees to open retirement benefits bond redemption fund account with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as stated in the State Pension Reform Law 2008 Section 16 subsections 1-6, which has accumulated to over N18.2bn by last December.
“The delay in the payment of retirement benefits by the state government to Contributory Pension Retirees for over six years has resulted in many untimely deaths, poverty, mass indebtedness to money lenders and landlords,” he disclosed.
Brisibe, who stood in for Okowa, agreed that the government actually defaulted, but pleaded for time and understanding to clear the backlog, adding that the governor feels their pains.
The Chief of Staff pleaded with the pensioners to bear with the government, saying the governor was not oblivious of their suffering as it was working hard to tackle the nagging problem.
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