Pensioners collapse in Bayelsa during verification exercise

By Samuel Tombra, Yenagoa 

There was stampede at the Samson Siasia Stadium when three pensioners participating in a pension verification exercise ordered by the state Governor, Mr. Seriake Dickson. 

It was learnt that the affected pensioners were immediately rushed to the hospital for medical treatment. 

Prior to the incident, the pensioners who had not been paid many arrears, were said to have complained of stress, hunger and dehydration. 

The inclement weather occasioned by heavy downpour reportedly contributed in exacerbating the hardship of the pensioners during the exercise. 

The exercise which started on Monday was initiated by the state government to get the actual figure of the pensioners. 

But the retirees complained that the exercise had many hiccups and urged the government to find a lasting solution to their plight. 

One of them, Mr. Daniel Ogobugha, said he was not happy with the method adopted for the verification adding that the government would have combined the payment of the arrears with the exercise. 

He said: “Yes, we have been here since morning, many of our people have fainted, some critical ones have been rushed to the hospital; the government is helping but this exercise is very stressful to us. 

“Most of us are aged, some can no longer walk but look at us here for verification; well, if it is the way to fish out fake pensioners, is okay but I must tell you that this is not good due the health of some of us. 

“Some of us are being owed for over six months, we can’t pay our children school fees, with the current harsh economy, feeding have been a huge challenge to some families”. 

Another retiree, Mr Richard Epiri, urged the state government to expedite action in paying the backlog of their pensions. 

Confirming the development,the Chairperson, Bayelsa Pension Board, (BPB) Mrs. Jane Aleke, said the the pensioners collapsed because of exhaustion. 

He confirmed that the affected persons were rushed to the Government House Clinic. 

Aleke said that the exercise was not aimed at stressing the retirees but to enable the government get actual figure of pensioners. 

She appealed to the retirees to be calm and promised that every pensioners in the state would be captured in the exercise. 

“This is about management of wealth and you know in paying them, the state government cannot just begin to pay with a gauss number, so, we cannot do gauss work. 

“We are ready to reach all the Local governments in the state, we have started with Yenagoa; for those of them, who are sick and cannot walk, we will definitely go to their house,” she said.

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