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2 pensioners slump during protest in Benue

Two pensioners in Benue slump during protest. PHOTO: JOHNSON BABAJIDE
  • 5 of our members die weekly – Pensioners

TWO pensioners slumped yesterday as hundreds of them embarked on peaceful protest to press home the non payment of their ten months pension allowance.

The incident, which happened at the government house, Makurdi, Benue State capital before the arrival of the government officials, who later addressed them prompted some of female colleagues to remove their wrappers to fan the slumped persons and pour water on them until they were revived.

The ugly incident threw the whole environment into pensive mood with some female protesters burst into tears until the slumped persons were revived.

The pensioners carried placards with various inscriptions, “Ortom pay us our 10 months pension arrears”, “Governor, we are dying because we can no longer buy our drugs; “we cannot pay our children’s school fees; “pay us our bailout.”

Mr Peter Kyado, who spoke on behalf of the pensioners when the acting Secretary to the State Government attended to them, lamented the ugly lives they had been living without the payment of their allowances, adding that they lose five members every week in the state due to non payment of their allowances.

“It is an irony that today we are living in penury as we can  no longer feed ourselves, no shelter, no medication due to non payment of our entitlements for several years; even we are  considered and being treated as weaker and irresponsible.

“As senior citizens, we gave our very best to our state, country and humanity; we deserve respect and timely release of our retirement benefits as contained in the 1999 constitution.”

He faulted the statement of the state governor, Chief Samuel Ortom, who had declared on state radio recently that his administration was up to date in payment of pensioners’ allowance, urging the governor to stop playing politics with their lives, adding, we appeal to the state government to settle our outstanding gratuities so also we want our case to be put on first line charge so as to ensure regular and timely payment of monthly pensions.

They equally called for increase in pension allowances that have not been harmonised since 2001 to 2010,

The acting SSG who stood in on behalf of the governor, Dr Bem Melladu, assured them that the process for the payment of pensioners arrears in the state was ongoing.

Melladu explained that the Ministry of Finance had already put in place all the necessary procedures to commence the payment adding that all pensioners will be paid within the next two weeks.

Also collaborating the SSG, the Finance Commissioner, Mr David Olofu, explained that the government had commenced the procedures to clear the outstanding arrears in the state.

Olofu said that government had agreed to set aside N400 million monthly outside the normal monthly pensions.