Emmanuel Ugwu-Nwogo in Umuahia
Abia pensioners yesterday commenced a two-day protest across the state to draw attention to their sufferings as a result of 45 months of unpaid pensions. The pensioners under the aegis of Concerned Abia Pensioners also complained of gratuities that were last paid 22 years ago as well as non-harmonisation of pensions from 1998 to 2022.
Clad in all black attire scores of the senior citizens marched through the streets of Umuahia with placards in languid and mournful mood, evoking pity and sympathy. They sang solidarity song with much efforts.
Some of the inscriptions on the placards read: “Ikpeazu, why are you insensitive to pensioners’ conditions;” “Ikpeazu, pay us our over 22 years gratuity;” “Ikpeazu, be informed that many pensioners can no longer get medical care due to lack of money”; “Ikpeazu, why should we vote your candidate in the midst of your wickedness to pensioners”
On reaching the NUJ Press Centre Umuahia, the pensioners stopped and cried to journalists to help plead with the state governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu “to stop starving us”.
Coordinator of the Concerned Abia Pensioners, Emeka Okezie, lamented that the senior citizens have been left to their plight as the Ikpeazu government has not seen the need to pay the arrears of pensions and gratuities.
“We have been dehumanised and subjected to unimaginable sufferings,” he said, adding that reach toll among the ranks of Abia pensioners range from 10 to 15 every month.
According to him, the Elder Dan Amugo, who was his predecessor as coordinator of Concerned Abia Pensioners, “is in the mortuary and would be buried soon”.
He said that Ikpeazu’s attitude to pensioners signified that “he seems not to have any regard for his fathers,” adding,
“We are the fathers; they are supposed to help us”.
Okezie sent a passionate appeal to the Abia governor, urging him to come to their aid and mitigate their sufferings and deprivations.
“What we are pleading for and still pleading is for this our government to intervene seriously because a lot of us are in the mortuary, a lot of us are lying helpleessly sick and no money to buy drugs,” he said.