With the buzz around the recently concluded general elections gradually subsiding, pensioners in Rivers State have appealed to the State Governor, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, who was busy with the elections as Director-General of the Buhari/Osinajo Campaign Organization, to pay them their three months pension arrears before the end of this month.
The pensioners, who spoke on Sunday under the aegis of the Nigerian Union of Pensioners, Rivers State Chapter, lamented that the state government had not paid them (pensioners) since January, 2015.
A statement by the State NUP Chairman, Mr. Edward Festus-Abibo, and Secretary, Mr. Joseph Agbo, disclosed that members of the union had been suffering untold hardship as a result of the unpaid arrears.
The statement pointed out that such ugly situation had not happened in the past, even as he wondered why politicians and other workers had received their pay to date, with the exception of pensioners in the state.
The pensioners said, “We regret to inform you that senior citizens of this state have not been paid their monthly pension allowance since January, 2015 to date (three months).
“We are suffering untold hardship under the midst of plenty. This kind of ugly situation has never occurred in the history of Rivers State. It is unbelievable that Rivers State Government owes pensioners when politicians and other workers have been paid up to March 2015.
“What evil have we committed that warrant this type of punishment? Before we were paid December, 2014, we protested twice and lost two of our members during the protest.
“What an ugly situation! Presently, some of our members had been sent to their grave because of lack of medical care and starvation”.
It noted that pensioners in the state were currently owed six per cent increment since October 1, 2003 and 15 per cent increment since 2007, adding that such increases had been computed and sent to the governor for approval and release of fund for the past two years.
The statement added, “Recently, pension increase of 33 percent has been approved with effect from 1st July, 2010 and the State Government had not implemented it.
“We therefore, call on the state government to pay our monthly pension allowances for the months of January, February and March 2015 and other outstanding increases on pensions from 2003 to date before the end of this month (April)”.