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Pensioners Protest Non-Payment Of Allowance

Rivers Elder statesmen were seen once again on the streets of Port Harcourt Rivers State capital in anger. They marched from their office No. 10 Aba Road to Rivers State Government House to express their suffering which the Governor of the state Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi has subjected them to and demanding that the Governor should pay them their money.

In his speech, chairman of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) Rivers Council, Comrade Edward Festus Abibo recalled that last year June 2012, they embarked on peaceful protest to the same Government House to expressed their displeasure, lack of care and frustration by the State Government in respect of pensioners in the state.

Abibo further stated that after eight months, they took up another peaceful protest to the same Government for attention but the Governor refused to listen to them despite the fact that circular on pension increase was issued by the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission Abuja.

He decried that after eight months of the public protest, the legitimate demands of the pensioners of the state- payment of pension increase of 2003 an 2007 vide circular Ref. SWC/S/04/S/164/289 dated 5th August, 2010 till Re-Review of pension rate the issue has not been addressed by the state government.

Other pressing items yet to be addressed, he said, is payment of Retired Primary School Teachers (Federal Share) of the monthly pension which become the responsibility of all state governments vide federal circular from the Presidency, Establishment and Pension Office Abuja No. PNA/32760/S.19/31 dated 14th February, 2013.

According to the Chairman, for over 12 years now this category of pensioners are subjected to begging, living in penury condition which has resulted to systematic extermination to their early graves by the Government which under the constitution should seek to protect its Senior Citizens.

Also on demand is the payment of Federal Share of Pension gratuities and monthly pensions to those pensioners who retired from State Service on the 1st of July, 2007 to 31st March, 2011 due to non implementation of the new pension Act of 2004 by the Rivers State Government.

He pressed that the Union has made several contacts to the leadership of the Rivers State and cooperated in many ways to see that these legitimate demands are met but to no avail.

Rather, the Rivers State Government has resorted to singing one song with different tones at different times on our demands. Also, letters has been sent to well meaning indigenes of this State for example Traditional Rulers, Social Bodies, highly placed Senior Citizens to intervene on behalf of the pensioners, for the State Governor, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi to approve and release fund to pay the outstanding pension entitlements.

In similar vain, he said that letters has been forwarded to Churches for prayers for the Almighty God to touch the heart of the Governor of the State to release fund in order the state of the pensioners.

He added, retirees of 1st July, 2007 to 31st March, 2011 should be paid by their State Government since the respective State had not joined the new Pension Scheme of 2004.

Unfortunately to the protesters, they reached the Government House only to meet the absent of the Governor left for the Head of Service to addressed them. He however, pleaded that they should go back believing him that he will talk with the Governor when he is back and that they will get positive result from his discussion with the Governor.

The protesters threatened that if he the governor refused to change, the pensioners will go on their knees, and he will not go free.

In their anger, the Union held a prayer session in front of the Government House. ###

By Mene Gbarabe

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