By Gabriel Enogholase
BENIN—FOR the second time in one week, pensioners in Edo State have grounded commercial actives at Kings Square and other adjoining streets in protest against the non-payment of their pension arrears ranging from 10 to 42 months.
The pensioners, who brandished placards with inscriptions, such as “Edo State retirees of 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 are hungry and abandoned,” “Comrade Governor please pay us our monthly pensions and no vacuum in government,” “Open Pension Board/Bureau,” among others, marched through Kings Square, Airport Road and Ezoti Street in Benin City, causing traffic gridlock on the major roads.
Addressing newsmen at the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, Secretariat, state Chairman, Nigeria Union of Pensioners, Edo State Chapter, Pullen Noruwa, said that the suffering of the pensioners had become unbearable as most of them could no longer meet their needs.
He added that they had decided to take to the streets to let the public know that they are being owed by the state government.
He said the pensioners were aware that the governor’s tenure would end in November this year and that it would be better if they were paid as a parting gift.
He said: “We are pleading. Oshiomole is leaving the stage. We want him to pay our entitlements before he leaves office. Let him use it as a parting gift to us.
“Some of us receive less than N2,000 per month. This is as a result of no- harmonization of our pensions. You will find out that those of us who retired in 2000, 1996, what they were given us at retirement is what they are still earning today.
“You may have known that somebody died during the screening. That person was on less than N10,000 a month because his pension was not harmonized.”
He said that one of the reasons for the delay in the payment of their arrears was the absence of Pensions Board. He called on the state government to harmonize the pension of the 1996 and 2000 retirees to enable them meet their financial needs.
He called on the state government to harmonize the pension of the 1996 and 2000 retirees to enable them meet up with their financial needs like their counterparts.