Again, Retirees Protest in Niger State

Laleye Dipo in Minna

For the seventh time in a spate of six months scores of retirees have protested in Minna, the Niger State capital, asking the state government to pay their pensions and gratuities some of which had been outstanding for 11 years.

The latest protest started from the Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi International Conference Centre to the Government House, where they blocked the main gate thereby stopping entry or outgoing of workers and other government officials.

The protesters carried placards with different inscriptions such as: ‘Pay us our entitlements’, ‘We are dying’, ‘Enough is enough’.

The pensioners also vowed to campaign against the candidates of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in next month’s election.

At a stage the protesters assembled and said Muslim and Christian prayers, asking God to touch the heart of Governor Abubakar Sani Bello to pay their dues.

The state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Ogundele Ayodeji and the Director of State Security Services (DSS) were however able to prevail on the protesters to have a meeting with two government officials, the Chief of Staff to the Governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Balarabe and the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Alhaji Ahmed Ibrahim Matane.

At the meeting, the representatives of the pensioners were assured that “something will be done” about the demands and “we will get back to you within one week.”

The leader of the Joint Action Committee of the retirees, Mr. Daniel Zita, said they agreed to call off the protest in respect for those that intervened, adding that “if within the period given nothing is done we will continue with the protest.”

Zita, however, said next time they will only dialogue with the governor, not any of his aides.

It would be recalled that it took the intervention of the governorship candidate of the APC, Mr. Umar Bago, for a similar protest to be suspended last December.

Bago was said to have donated 2,000 bags of rice to the pensioners to ameliorate their problems.

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