5 retirees die daily in C’River without gratuity – Group

Two pensioners in Benue slump during protest. PHOTO: JOHNSON BABAJIDE

A group under the aegis of concerned retirees in Calabar, the Cross River State capital has said that no fewer than five retirees in the state die daily without receiving their gratuities since 2003.

Spokesperson of the group, 65- year old Pastor Joshua Idang, who led his members on Tuesday to protest the non-payment of three years gratuity to retired workers by the state government, stressed that findings had showed that five retirees die daily without receiving their gratuity.

Pastor Idang lamented that the state government has not paid retirees their gratuity since June, 2013; a situation he said has subjected retirees into untold hardship and starvation in the state.

According to Idang, “From our findings, not less than five retirees of the state civil service, die daily, without collecting their gratuities. The state government stopped paying gratuities in May, 2013 and they die because many of them cannot afford medical bills when they are sick.”

He said several appeals made to the state government by the state chapter of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners had not yielded fruits, lamenting that all they get from government are “empty promises.

“As I am talking to you now, many of the retirees who we know are very sick and cannot afford hospital bills. We do not know what might happen to them, but I can tell you authoritatively that at least five retirees die in Cross River every day,” he said.

He claimed that only last month (July), about 150 workers retired from the state service and wondered why government was allowing gratuities of senior citizens to accumulate.

“We are afraid that since people are retiring every month from the service, it could get to a point where government may not be able to pay the accumulated benefits and this will complicate our problems,” he argued.

Idang however commended the state government for paying retirees pension up-to-date, stressing that what retirees want now is for government to start paying gratuities in order to alleviate their sufferings.

“We spent 35 years toiling for the state with the hope that when we retire, we will just go home and rest while offering our services to our communities. But what is happening now is not only disheartening, but frustrating and we want the government to please come to our rescue.”