Abia pensioners shocks Ikpeazu, disrupt Workers’ Day rally, over unpaid pensions

Abia pensioners shocks Ikpeazu, disrupt Workers’ Day rally, over unpaid pensions

Angry pensioners in Abia on Wednesday staged a protest at the venue of this year’s Workers Day celebration over the non-payment of 28-month pension arrears. It was learnt that almost immediately the Head of Service, Mr. Onyii Wamah, who represented Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, mounted the dais to take the salute, the pensioners marched from their canopy

Angry pensioners in Abia on Wednesday staged a protest at the venue of this year’s Workers Day celebration over the non-payment of 28-month pension arrears.

It was learnt that almost immediately the Head of Service, Mr. Onyii Wamah, who represented Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, mounted the dais to take the salute, the pensioners marched from their canopy to the centre stage, ahead of the commencement of the march past.

The protesters, who were clad in all-black attires, and equipped with walking sticks and placards, stood still in front of Wamah, who later came down from the dais.

The protesting senior citizens created more scene when some of them sat on bare floor, attracting sympathy from the crowd which scrambled to catch a better picture of the drama.

Our Correspondent reports that inscriptions on some of the placards read: “Stop this mercy killing and gross tyranny, pay pension, gratuity;” “Pension payment is now a taboo in Abia State,” among others.

The protesters stayed put for about 15 minutes, during which the programme, especially the march past, was disrupted, before they were later persuaded to relocate to their canopy.

Chairman of the State chapter of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners, Mr. Chukwuma Udensi, said the protest was intended to draw public attention to the plight of pensioners in Abia.

Udensi said: “We are being owed 19 months now, added to the nine months owed us by the past administration, which will amount to 28 months.

“We call on Abia Government to pay pensioners of Abia, because most of our colleagues have died due to unpaid retirement benefits”.

The state Public Relations Officer of NUP, Mr. Julius Ikpe, said, “In the present administration from November 2017 till date, no pensioner has received any payment.”

State Chairman of Nigeria Labour Congress, Mr. Uchenna Obigwe, expressed dismay over the steadily increasing salary arrears and unpaid retirement benefits in Abia.

“This situation is worrisome, particularly when the pensioners are not getting their monthly pensions regularly.

“Congress still repeats her plea for the sum of N150m for gratuities monthly,” Obigwe said.

Responding, the governor said he had taken note of the complaints and needs of the workers and pensioners, adding that urgent steps would be taken to address them.

Ikpeazu also expressed the willingness of the government to pay the N30,000 minimum wage.

“We await a circular from the Federal Government concerning the minimum wage and I assure you that we will not reduce the amount but will ensure that we pay N30,000,” the governor said.

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