A’Ibom Pensioners  Threaten  Demonstration, to Block Governor’s Lodge over Neglect

Okon Bassey in Uyo

Members of the Nigerian Union of Pensioners, Akwa Ibom State council have threatened to embark on mass  demonstration in Uyo, the state capital and  block the entrance to the state Government House to press home their demand.

The pensioners lamented that efforts to get government’s attention to ameliorate their worsening plight failed hence  their decision to take to the streets for the world to know their predicament.

Addressing journalists  in Uyo  yesterday, the state Chairman of the union, Obong Ekpeyong  Ekpo  and State Secretary, Obong Cosmos  Essien, explained that the worsening condition of members of the Union should be a source of concern to government and public spirited Nigerians .

“The sad plight of our members is that those who retired in the 1980s with salaries of N1,000, N1,500 or N2,000 are still collecting such funds as pension till date in the State.

“Whenever you retire, what is worked out for you remain static, until the 1999 constitution in section 173 (3) (2) (10)  said explicitly that pension will be reviewed every five years along whatever increase giving to workers. Government here bluntly refused to implement the review.

“Can you imagine that in present day Nigeria, many of our members are still collecting N2,000 a month, some N1,000 a month and their current situation is very pathetic, some don’t have children  to care for them, few privileged  have while those who have children late are still training them in school.

“When Akwa Ibom government promised us minimum pension of N20,000 for those who returned before 1997 and N30,000 for those afterwards and asked us to inform members  across board, there was jubilation and they also promised  to start payment from April 2023 to avoid accumulation of arrears, however till date nothing has been paid. All pressure on government to implement it failed woefully.

“The arrears they tried to avoid have accumulated. We have been praying, crying and reaching out to those in government to help but no sign of change, our members are dying daily because they cannot afford drugs, over 65 per cent of pensioners are hypertensive, and diabetic, survival in Nigeria presently is very expensive and our members are no longer coping, we have brought our plight to government and they snubbed us.   

However, the union expressed gratitude to Governor  Eno for the payment of gratuity stressing that the governor has within the nine  months of his stay in government paid about 14 billion in gratuities which cut across civil pensioners, local government pensioners, primary school pensioners and next of kins.

“If other administrations have made similar efforts, I think we will not have been in this kind of dilemma we found ourselves today. We really appeal to him to continue as a pastor with heart of human kindness to salvage the situation.

“He must not toe the part of his predecessors who abandoned the aged citizens and our prayer for the governor will be ceaseless in order to do more.

“We have realised that pensioners have nobody to speak for them and let the world know their plight in Akwa Ibom. We appeal to the incumbent governor to come to our aid by establishing pension commission or Board.

“We have had cases of the past governors announce  publicly that they are not owing any pension and I can tell you that 80% of pensioners who are tenants have had their property thrown out by their landlords after receiving such news on the ground that they are liars

 “We have moved round many times as state exco to plead with the landlords that the news is not true. Sometimes it takes us a whole month going round and reconciling the situation between evicted tenants and their landlords.

“These old men are crying daily, they are dying slowly because they can’t afford decent living on N2,000, or N1,000 pension monthly. Government must remember the pensioners who are mostly old, aged citizens must be cared for.

“Failure for government to care for these people means they don’t regard their parents. The world must hear the woes, Akwa Ibom pensioners are going through,” pensioners lamented. 

The union said it  has  between 25,000 to 28,000 members because as many are dying on daily basis, others retire into the system too.

The pensioners noted that despite governor’s recent efforts, over N40 billion outstanding pension and gratuities debts remains pending.  

“We the union leaders are also under attack from pensioners who think we are not doing enough to get government to ameliorate their plight, and we willingly accepted their attacks because we can only say we have performed when money flows in their hands.

“We are begging you journalists to help us inform the governor, stakeholders and the general public of our pathetic conditions of living after spending our entire youthful age and strength to serve our father land,” they said.

Related Articles