Hundreds of Local Government Pensioners in Akwa Ibom State on Monday protested against non-payment of their gratuities by the state government.
The protesters, who marched through Wellington Bassey Road to Government House, said they have suffered untold hardships as a result of non-release of their gratuities since they retired from their respective local governments’ service.
The state chairman of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners, Mr. Effanga Ettah, asked the Akwa Ibom State governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel to approve the release of payment of pensioners’ gratuity since 2012.
Ettah lamented that some pensioners in the 31 local government areas of the state have not received their gratuity, adding that many of the pensioners had died without getting their gratuities.
He noted that pensioners in the local governments had also not received their monthly pensions since March this year.
“Local government pensioners stay months before their monthly pension is paid. This is due to the poor funding of the Local Government Pension Board. The arrears amounting to millions of naira is still pending.
“The union believes that in your good gesture, you will approve payment for the arrears and money for dead pensioner’s next of kin,” Ettah appealed.
The pensioners’ union leader explained that even the monthly meeting of Joints Account Committee has failed to allocate funds for payment of pensioner’s entitlement.
A pensioner, Mrs. Elizabeth Udo, told our correspondent that the governor, who marked his 50thbirthday anniversary on Monday, ignored them as they gathered and drove out of Government House.
She said the attitude of the governor was unbecoming, noting that they (the pensioners) would not leave the Government House until Emmanuel address them.
Emmanuel had on Sunday donated N5m to United Evangelical Church (aka, Qua Iboe), Eket. The governor, who was in the church at the instance of his Special Adviser on Religious Matter, Rev. Daniel Akwatang, over his silver jubilee marriage anniversary, stated that his donation was not government money.
He said, “This is not government money, it is my personal money.”
The Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Mr. Victor Antai, said that the allocation from Federation Account was not been enough to pay workers’ salaries and pensioners monthly entitlements.
According to him, government was unaware of the plight of pensioners in the state, especially those in the local government. He added that owing to financial difficulties, state government could not fulfill most of its obligations.
He appealed to pensioners to bear with government as efforts were on top gear to alleviate their plight.