Edo State pensioner (name withheld) on Monday slumped at the King square in Oredo Local Government Area of Edo State on Tuesday, chasing pandemonium in the Area.
It was leant pensioner, joined his colleagues in their numbers blocked all adjoining roads over pension cut and non-harmonization of pensions and unpaid gratuities when he reportedly slumped and was thereafter taken to hospital for medical attention by concerned Nigerians.
In the heat of the rage, which disrupted business activities and caused a traffic snarl at the Oba Ovonramwen square, Sapele road, Sakponba, Ekehuan, Uselu-Ugbowo axis and Airport road linking the City center and other adjoining Streets for several hours.
Decked in black attires to depict the mood of the moment, the retirees chanted songs like “We shall overcome”, and carried placards with inscriptions such as “pensioners need gratuity to take care of our health and our family, pay our gratuity and harmonize our monthly pension,” and asked the government to accede to their demands.
The senior Citizens under the umbrella of Association of Retired Civil Servants Welfare of Nigeria (ARCSWON) in Edo State, lamented that their allowances are far depleted by inflation and expensive cost of daily living.
Yusuf Bako who spoke on behalf of the pensioners, kicked against illegal deduction from their monthly pensions, urged the government to urgently effect harmonization owing to the diminishing purchasing power of Naira.
Bako, a former chairman, association of Senior Civil Servants in the State, threatened that the next protest will be a mother of all protest if government fails to grant their request.
“This is a warning outing, the grandfather of the protest will come soon. On that day, we will carry pot, bed and stove to occupy this place even if it rains or it’s sunny. We will not leave until they grant our demands. But for today, we will leave because issues are resolved on a table.
“We have gone to meet the state government and was received by the Secretary to the State Government. So, we have rescheduled a meeting for tomorrow. We will lay all these on ground tomorrow. As regards the issue of one percent being deducted, we are going to ask them to stop it and refund the ones they have collected,” Bako said.
According to him, “The number one issue on ground is gratuity. Since 2012, state government retirees have not received their gratuities while that of local government is since 2008. We also have issues with harmonization of our pensions; as at today, the teacher that taught me geography receives N4,000 a month.
“In addition to these issues, the government joined hands with the union to collect from the small pension we receive and shared it with the union. We have rejected that, and that is why we are out today to tell them we will not die.”
Addressing the pensioners, Osaro Washington, a representative of the Edo State Pension Bureau, assured that all hands are on deck to sort the issues raised by the aggrieved senior citizens.
“We have asked them to put on hold the one percent deduction until further notice. We are not owing any pensioners. What they are saying is their gratuity. We have told them times without number that the payment will be done as quickly as possible and we are holding meeting with all stakeholders on this particular issue,” Washington said.
Our Correspondent recall that in June 2020, Nigeria Union of pensioners including a cross who had previously protested unpaid pension and gratuities along with market women, traders unions and artisans as well as members of National Union of Road Transport Workers, NUTRW in Edo State, commended the State governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki for prioritizing the welfare of pensioners in the State.