Pensioners threaten to boycott polls over arrears
Unless the over 42 months pension arrears of the state chapter of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners are paid, the retired workers may boycott the September 10 governorship polls.
The pensioners, who staged a peaceful protest along major streets in Benin City, yesterday also threatened to mobilise their families and others to boycott the polls.
Leading the aggrieved pensioners is their state Public Relations Officer, Vincent Aigbodion, who said the non-payment of their pension arrears had made it difficult for them to care for their families.
They carried placards with various inscriptions like, “Give us our pensions benefits,” “Pension benefits are economic and human rights of retirees,” “No vacuum in government, open pension board/bureau.”
Aigbodion added that unless the state government responds to their cries, they would work against the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the forthcoming governorship polls.
In his reaction, the Commissioner for Establishment, Special Duties, Didi Adodo told The Guardian that the administration of Governor Adams Oshiomhole inherited the pension and gratuity arrears from 1998.
He, however, said that the government has so far paid the arrears up to 2011.
The commissioner admitted that some pensioners were actually being owed, but added that it was not true that some were owed as many as 42 months.
He said: “People should know that this government has done more to ameliorate the plight of pensioners in the state than any other government.”
Adodo explained that among the pensioners being owed are thousands of retirees dating back to the military era and that of former governor Lucky Igbinedion.
“When Oshiomhole came in, he extended the payment beyond those who retired under him by paying from 1998.
He said the state was already working on the payments in batches before the dissolution of the pension board, adding, “In another week or so, these people will receive their entitlements.”
The commissioner disclosed that some of the pensioners should be blamed for the arrears because they did not fill in the necessary papers until after their disengagement from service.
According to him, “The law states that someone planning to retire should fill the necessary papers six months before the date. But what we have experienced is that some don’t comply until many years after retirement.”
He added that though the pension board has been dissolved, it has not in anyway affected the processing of papers.
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