Friday, 6 November 2015

Benue pensioners protest against omission from bail out

Pensioners marched on the Benue State Governors Office to protest the non payment of six (6) months pension arrears and gratuity and in anger disowned their state chairman, Mr. Joseph Ikyume alleging misrepresentation by him before the state government.

The pensioners, whose major grouse was non inclusion in the bailout funds that is being paid to workers of the state, unanimously shouted down and booed Mr. Ikyume from been their spokesman while meeting with the governor, Chief Samuel Ortom.

In place of their leader, one of the pensioners’ Madam Stella Peters was unanimously chosen to present their grievances to the governor in repudiation of their leader, Ikyume who was seated at the high table with the governor.

The spokesperson, while narrating their ordeals, decried their non-inclusion in the bailout and appealed to the governor to as a matter of urgency pay their six months allowance which she said was in the regime of N2 billion.

“The past government sentenced us to death by not paying us our allowance from November, 2014 to April, 2015, we wonder whether Ortom our new governor has come to sign the death sentence,” she lamented.

She revealed that many of them are wallowing in abject poverty, cannot feed well, train their children, saying the situation has turned them to laughing stock in their neighborhood.

“If you fail to answer to our requests it then means that you want to confirm the death sentence placed on us by your predecessor, but we plead that you look inward and answer our request,” she maintained.

Responding, Governor Samuel Ortom claimed that the state indebtedness to both local government and state pensioners in gratuities and allowances have risen to N37billion, explaining that despite the lean resources his administration since inception in office has been paying monthly pension allowances.

He added that in his bid to keep faith with his electioneering promises, he has released monthly allowances of N117m and N398m to local government and state pensioners in spite of the dwindling in monthly allocation.

While reminding them of the poor financial position of the state as at the time he assumed office, the governor appealed to the pensioners to be patient with him just as he promised to present their case before President Muhammadu Buhai.

The governor further explained that it was due to his intention to settle the gratuities and arrears of the pensioners along with the salary arrears that made him to apply for N69billion bailout but regretted that only N28billion representing workers’ salary arrears was approved.

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