Scores of pensioners on Tuesday marched along major streets of Owerri, the Imo capital to protest payment of only 40 per cent arrears of pension to retirees by the Imo Government.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the pensioners arrived at Orlu Road Roundabout Owerri, the take-off point of the protest, as early as 7.30 a.m. with placards.
Gideon Ezeji, Imo Chairman, National Union of Pensioners (NUP), who addressed the protesters said “the protest was to expose the sufferings of Imo pensioners under the administration of Gov. Rochas Okorocha.’’
Mr. Ezeji explained that six different categories of pensioners were owed between 22 months and 77 months by the state government.
“Civil pensioners are owed 22 months, local government pensioners 23 months, retired primary school teachers 32 months, IBC pensioners 44 months, retired permanent secretaries 22 months and Alvan Ikoku pensioners 77 months,’’ he said.
He regretted the government’s move to pay 40 per cent of the accumulated pension arrears, adding that forfeiture of the 60 per cent arrears was unacceptable.
“The government is now using its agents to force pensioners to sign document it prepared, which by extension will make any pensioner that signs the document to forfeit his/her 60 per cent arrears.
“We say no to 40 per cent payment of arrears of pension and call on the Imo Government to pay us 100 per cent before Dec.23, 2016,’’ Mr. Ezeji demanded.
NAN reports that the protest started from Orlu Road roundabout at about 8.30 a.m. from where they marched to Government House Roundabout.
The pensioners carried placards with various inscriptions such as: “Pay the much you can, government is a continuum; pension is our right and not gratification.’’
“Also government projects are for the living and not the dead,’’ among others.