By Emmanuel Ita, Calabar
No fewer than 100 retirees in Cross River State took to the streets of the state capital, Calabar on Wednesday to protest non-payment of their gratuities from 2012 to 2015.
The protesting senior citizens, led by their leader, Pastor Joshua Idang marched from the African Club along Calabar Road to the Governorâ€™s Office to register their complaint.
In a letter of protest signed to the governor signed by Pastor Idang, Mr Patrick Awor, Mrs Alicia Etim, Mrs Veronica Ochala, Mr Ayah Emmanuel Okaba and Mr Udonwong Joshua on behalf of the retirees lamented that some of their colleagues had died without receiving their gratuities.
Â â€œYour Excellency, you are aware that retirees are men and women who have sacrificed 35 years of their life time working for the government. Most of us are at least 65 years old and growing weaker every day. Some of our colleagues have even died without receiving their gratuity. Thus, they have left their families in total distress, abject poverty, trauma and agony.
â€œWe appeal that you complete your good works by paying us our gratuity to date. This is so because we are aware that the Federal Government has provided bail out fund of N7.8 billion to help the state facilitate the payment of gratuities and salaries.
â€œIt is our sincere hope that since your government is people oriented and God-fearing as exhibited in your programmes so far, you will look into retireesâ€™ plight with fatherly consideration,â€ the letter read.
The retirees said the various trade unions in the state had organized industrial action exhaustive dialogue to make the governor look into their plight, but all the efforts proved abortive.
They said at the end of the industrial unrest last year, the governor had promised to start the payment of the gratuities from December 2015, but nothing had happened about it so far.Â
The State Head of Service and some Commissioners came to address the retirees, who insisted it was the governor the wanted to meet and thereafter dispersed.