Pensioners in Akwa Ibom protest non-payment of gratuities

By Williams Akan, Uyo 

Local Government pensioners in Akwa Ibom State have stormed the Government House in Uyo, the state capital, to protest the non-payment of their pension arrears and gratuities. 

The angry pensioners stormed the Wellington Bassey entrance of the Government House as early as 8am with placards bearing different inscriptions. 

Some of the protesters chanted solidarity songs while calling on the state government to pay them their pension arrears. 

Some of the inscriptions of the placards read: “We want our pension arrears paid. Bail Pensioners Out before We Die. Stop Avoidable Deaths.” 

Heavily armed Security agents prevented the protesting pensioners from gaining entrance to the main Government House ground. 

Addressing newsmen in Uyo, the State Chairman Nigeria Union of Pensioners, Mr Effanga Ettah, appealed to the Governor Udom Emmanuel to approve the release of payment of pensioners’ gratuity since 2012. 

Ettah lamented that some pensioners in the 31 local government areas of the state have not received their gratuity, adding that this has caused untold hardship to these elderly citizens. 

He added that pensioners in the local government had also not received their monthly pension since March this year. 

According to him, the situation had thrown a lot of pensioners into untimely death causing their families hardship as they could no longer provide for their families.

His words: “Local Government Pensioners stay months before their monthly pension is paid. 

This is due to the poor funding of the Local Government Pension Board. The arrears amounting to millions of Naira is still pending. 

“The Union believes that in your good gesture, you will approve payment for the arrears and money for dead pensioner’s next of kin.” 

The pensioners’ union leader explained that even the monthly meeting of Joints Account Committee has failed to allocate funds for payment of pensioner’s entitlement. 

The Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Mr Victor Attai, said that allocation from Federation Account has not been enough to pay workers salaries and pensioners monthly entitlements. 

Attai said that government was not unaware of the plight of pensioners in the state especially those in the local government but due to the financial difficulties facing state government at the moment. 

He appealed to pensioners to bear with government as efforts were on top gear to alleviate their plight.

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