Mixed reactions as Imo begins payment of six years pension arrears
As the Imo State Government begins payment of pension arrears, some of the retirees who confirmed that they have been receiving alerts from their banks have complained of being short- changed in payment of 57 per cent, urging quick reconciliation of the amounts.
While some of the retirees said they were paid December last year (twice last year), others appealed that Governor Emeka Ihedioha should increase the payment from two months to five months arrears, noting that two months were to small after some of them had been owed six years.
An Owerri-based retired teacher, Dr. Nma Olebara in a phone-in programme on 99.5 (Hot FM), yesterday confirmed receiving an alert of two months arrear, but said the payments translated to 85 per cent.
Also, Sylvanus Aguwa, in his contribution faulted the governor’s broadcast of the commencement of the payment, while an anonymous caller, who commended Ihedioha for paying them, complained that he received 57 per cent each for the two months.
Speaking, state Chairman of the Nigerian Union of Pensioners (NUP), Josiah Ugochukwu, also, thanked Ihedioha for the payment and suggested that due to the complaints of short-payments, a joint committee of representatives of the retirees and the State Government, should be constituted to address the complaints.
He said he had not got his alert as at the time he was talking on radio, adding that the committee would interface with the complaints.
Besides, after capturing over 24,000 of the over 48,000 retirees in both the state and local government, the Imo State Government disclosed that it has uncovered 8,549 ghost retirees.
It also uncovered a monthly savings of N428m, which would have ended up in the pockets of fraudsters.
Consequently, the state now has a total wage bill of N1.2b, having reduced it from the initial N1.499b on May 29, 2019 when Ihedioha assumed office.
Ihedioha, disclosed these in his statewide broadcast in Owerri on the commencement of pensions payment to the 24,431 verified retirees.
Meanwhile, former Governor Rochas Okorocha faulted Ihedioha, accusing him of being economical with the truth and dashing the hopes of the retirees after waiting patiently for three months biometric verification.
In a statement issued by Okorocha’s Special Adviser on Media, Sam Onwuemeodo, he said Ihedioha’s broadcast could only say unexpected things.
He only ended up dashing the hopes of pensioners and also gave a wrong analysis of what the pension situation has really been in the state.
But Ihedioha, in a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Chibuike Onyeukwu, insisted that mostof the retirees and Imo people were happy with the commencement of the payment with two months arrears.