South-east pensioners to protest unpaid gratuities, pensions

L-R: Governors Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu); Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia); David Umahi (Ebonyi); Willie Obiano (Anambra); and the Deputy Governor of Imo State, Prince Eze Madumere during the South East Governors' Forum at the Government House, Enugu, yesterday.
L-R: Governors Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu); Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia); David Umahi (Ebonyi); Willie Obiano (Anambra); and the Deputy Governor of Imo State, Prince Eze Madumere during the South East Governors' Forum at the Government House, Enugu, yesterday.

The National Union of Pensioners (NUP), says its members from the five states of the South-east geopolitical zone, will embark on a zonal march to protest poor welfare, unpaid gratuities and pension benefits.

The resolution was part of key decisions reached at the rotational quarterly zonal caucus meeting of the union held in Abakaliki on Friday.

The NUP ‘s zonal chairman, Chukwuma Udensi, presided over the meeting attended by chairmen and secretaries of state councils, national vice chairman and national treasurer.

He said that the protest would hold simultaneously in the five states of the South-east, comprising Ebonyi, Abia, Enugu, Imo and Anambara states in a yet to be fixed date.

“These protests are not going to be a normal protest that we have previously organised at our various states.

“This is going to be the ‘mother’ of all protests which will take place at the same time and the same day across the five states of the South-East.

“What will make the protests ‘unusual’ is that women pensioners will lead the protests in their various states and they are going to protest with their breasts ‘unclad.’

“Women protesting baring their ‘breasts’ in Igbo land is an extreme form of demonstration and we are going to use it as our last weapon in our struggle for better welfare.

“Any governor who fails to respond to our demands after these ‘unusual’ protests will have himself to blame because the aftermath of the protests will come with dire consequences,” Mr Udensi said.

The union which decried the inhuman treatment meted out to its members urged pensioners in the country to vote in only leaders with pensioner-friendly dispositions.

The union described as heartless the refusal by the various state governors from South-east zone to settle arrears of pensions and gratuities of their retirees after receiving the Paris Club Refund and other bailout funds.

“We are appealing to President Muhammadu Buhari to order for an investigation into how the bailout funds his administration approved including the Paris Club Refund was used by each of the state governments.

“The funds were released to among other things settle arrears of pensions and gratuities owed state retirees, but our governors diverted the funds to other uses.

“Pensioners are dying in their numbers not because of ill health, but due to lack of money to take care of family needs and other issues.”

The meeting particularly bemoaned happenings in Imo, where pensioners were allegedly owed many years of pensions and gratuities, while the present administration announced stoppage in pension payment.

”Pensioners in Alvan Ikoku College of Education are owed between 52 and 89 months pension arrears, Imo Broadcasting Corporation is owed between 47 and 58 months. Primary school teachers are owed between 45 and 62 months, while civil service pensioners are owed 32 months pension.

“Pensioners in the state went to court and obtained a favourable court judgment against the state government, but Gov. Rochas Okorocha refused to comply with the judgment.

“The government has even embarked on reducing the pensions in Imo to further unleash hardship and pains on retirees,” he added.


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