Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
Three pensioners in Yenagoa, the ayelsa State capital on Tuesday, collapsed during the ongoing verification exercise to clean up the state’s huge payroll.
Thousands of the retirees who trooped out for the exercise, it was learnt, are being owed eight months arrears by the state government.
The affected pensioners, who were immediately rushed to the Government House clinic, are said to be responding to treatment.
Governor Seriake Dickson had while inaugurating the verification committee, asked its members to thoroughly authenticate the real workers in the state and possibly visit those who were too old and sickly in their homes to conduct the exercise.
The Chairperson, Bayelsa Pensions Board, Mrs Jane Aleke, who was supervising the exercise when the incident occurred, told journalists that the three pensioners were already receiving medical attention.
Aleke said the verification exercise was not to inconvenience the retirees but to enable the state to have the actual figure of the pensioners.
She appealed to the retirees to be calm and promised that every pensioner 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 guess work or estimated numbers, we cannot do that as a government.
“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 houses,” she said.
Some of the aggrieved retirees condemned the exercise which they described as too tedious and burdensome.
“This treatment being meted to pensioners is inhumane and despicable and at the same time insensitive. Indeed it is diversionary, we want our monies.
‘’It is the same people in government that aid the so-called ghost pensioners, we are not against verification but for God’s sake, they have owed us for eight months.
“There should be a sense of urgency, we are not begging for charity, we have sacrificed our youthful years; they should just pay us,” Ebikake Davies, one of the pensioners lamented.
Some of the pensioners had staged a peaceful protest last February 2016 which went awry when the protesters clashed with some youths near the government house.