The Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) in Imo state, has concluded plans to stage a peaceful demonstration in Owerri the state capital on December 12 to mark this year’s Pensioners Day celebration.
The protest, the union said, is to draw public attention to the continued refusal of the state government to pay 76 months’ arrears of pension and gratuities owed to them in the state.
The state chairman of the NUP, Chief Gideon Ezeji, dropped the hint on Wednesday in Owerri, while briefing journalists on the activities lined up for the 2016 Pensioner’s Day.
He said that Imo pensioners have been hearing that government will pay their pensions, but “should that fail, on December 12, which is the day we will mark this year’s Pensions Day, we will demonstrate over our plights.’’
Ezeji said that each branch of NUP across the 27 Local Government Areas will transport between five and 10 persons to Owerri to join the demonstration, saying the demonstration will take off from the Imo State House of Assembly complex Owerri and spread to other parts of the state capital.
“The reason for the demonstration is to draw public attention to the continued punishment of pensioners and to clearly condemn move by Gov. Okorocha to force pensioners to sign off 60 per cent of the arrears of pensions and gratuities owed them.
“The pensioners of Imo state say capital no to any partial payment of our pension and gratuities and Gov. Okorocha and he the governor should note that our monthly pension and gratuities are the only wealth most pensioners have.’’
According to him, it is unthinkable for the state government to say that they will pay pensioners only 40 per cent of the arrears owed them, while the pensioners forfeit the remaining 60 per cent of their money to the state government.
He lamented that the world over, it is not heard that a debtor will force the person he owes to accept a paltry sum of what he feels he could offer to pay.
He regretted that the State Lawmakers have been have passive over the plights of pensioners, stressing that,“we have written Imo State speaker and 26 other state lawmakers, none of them have shown concern over our predicament.’’
He further disclosed that retirees from Alvan Ikokwu College of Education Owerri are being owed for 76 months Local Government pensioners, 33 months, while the civil pensioners are owed 22 months.
Also commenting on thé plights of the pensioners, the Secretary of Association of retired Permanent Secretaries in the state, Chief Fabian Agba described as serious constitutional abuse by Governor Okorocha’s administration to seat on the payment of pensioners.
“Payment of pension and gratuities is a statutory issues as stated in Nigeria’s constitution and for a governor to abuse this section shows that such a governor has gone contrary to the constitution he was sworn-in to protect.’’