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Rivers House of Assembly begins debate on amending state pension law


Rivers House. PHOTO: Wikipedia

The Rivers House of Assembly yesterday began debate on amending the state pension law with a viewing to improving the administration of the scheme and ending the sufferings of retired civil servants.

Irate retirees had in the past staged protests and blockaded access roads to the Government House, Port Harcourt to register their anger over refusal by government to pay their pensions and gratuities.

However, debate on the proposed bill followed an executive bill to the Assembly for the amendment of the Rivers State Pension Reform Bill.

The lawmakers are to consolidate the state principal pension law and the one amended in 2012 by the Sixth Assembly under former Governor Chibuike Amaechi administration for effective implementation.

The Speaker, Ikuinyi-Owaji Ibani, stated this at the 170th sitting of the Eighth Assembly, expressing concern over the hardship being experienced by pensioners.

He noted that the bill, when passed into law, would be a “curative and problem solver.”

Ibani promised that the lawmakers would give priority and accelerated debate to the piece of legislation, adding that a labourer deserves his wage.

He noted: “You cannot deny a worker, who had contributed, his due right because the employer did not contribute.”

The Majority Leader and member representing Obio/Akpor constituency 1, Martins Amaewhule, noted that those, who retired recently and were part of the contributory pension scheme, complained that they had not benefited from the project.

He reiterated the need to consolidate the two versions of the legislation.

Amaewhule accused the immediate past administration in the state of lacking the political will to implement the scheme, assuring the citizens that once the consolidated bill is passed, the impediment to accessing the funds would be dismantled.

“Let nobody feel or say that pensioners are not paid in Rivers State. People of Obio/Akpor constituency 1 are happy with the amendment,” he stated.

Other contributors regretted that the issue had generated several protests from the senior citizens in the state, reminding the legislature to made good its promise of addressing the agitations.

The lawmakers noted that the problem of the country was unwillingness to implement laws.

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