Concerned Pensioners in Benue state have vowed to shut down government activities in the state until all outstanding pension arrears owed them were paid by the state government.
Although we could not ascertain the exact figure owed Pensioners in the state, competent sources within labour circles noted that the money owed Pensioners at the State and Local Government (LG) level could be as high as N25 billion.
Making their stand known in a letter addressed to Governor Samuel Ortom, which was made available to journalists in Makurdi on Sunday, September 1, 2019, the Pensioners who notified the Governor of their intended protest said they were being owed 25 months pension arrears.
However, efforts to get the chief press secretary, CPS, Terver Akase and the state commissioner for information, Mrs. Ngunan Addingi proved abortive.
They were passing the buck on whose responsibility it was to comment on the issue.
But in the letter which was signed by Peter Kyado, Chairman of the group, and the Assistant Secretary, James Mac-Mtsor, the Pensioners drew the attention of the Governor to two previous letters written to the government on the issue.
The letters are CP/NUP/BN/Vol.2, dated 22nd May 2019 and CP/NUP/BN/VoI.2 dated 24th July, 2019.
While the group said all entreaties to the government to reach an amicable solution has failed, they vowed that until their demands were met, they have decided to embark on an indefinite protest across the state with effect from Wednesday, September 4, 2019.
According to them, “Despite these two letters mentioned above, and all peaceful efforts made by Pensioners to prevail on the state government to pay our pension and gratuity, have all proved abortive.
“The situation is rather deteriorating as the government has extended its segmentation payment at the LG level of the state, thereby instituting the ‘divide and rule’ system and disunity amongst Pensioners.
“In the light of the foregoing, the Pensioners, both at the state and LG have decided to embark on an indefinite peaceful protest across the state with effect from 4th September 2019 until our demands are met.
“Our demands are the immediate payment of all our outstanding pension arrears to both the state and LG Pensioners; subsequently, the monthly pension to both the State and LG Pensioners should be paid as and when due.’
Other demands are the “monthly release of N1 billion (One billion naira only) for the payment of the gratuities till all the outstanding gratuities are settled as well as the release of the 15% of the statutory allocation to the LGAs for pension payment at the LG levels.”
While they prayed the governor to “accept the assurances of our best regards”, the pensioners hoped Governor Ortom would give a listening ear to their demands “by approving and directing the payment as soon as possible.”
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