Nigerian Pensioners are again crying foul over their unpaid gratuities. And, it is understandable why they should cry harder for them to be heard.
Down the pensioners’ history are series of reports stating the cries of the Association of the Pensioners in different states of the Federation.
First were the Pensioners in Imo State who earlier this year have again cried out, lamenting non -payment of their pensions by the Imo State Government. They described their plight as “passing through excruciating and traumatizing coma caused by the insensitivity of the present administration.”
The Imo State Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners, Chief Nwokedi Donatus revealed that since the inception of the present administration in Imo, no pensioner whose gratuity is above N500, 000 has been paid his/her gratuity.
“As if the sufferings on Imo pensioners are not enough, the Imo State Government in 2016 issued a form that cut the pensions of Imo pensioners by 60%. This inhuman treatment of paying Imo pensioners 40% forced us into the streets to protest against the injustice on three occasions.”
“When the Imo State Government refused to withdraw the illegal policy, the pensioners under the free legal aid of the Nigeria Bar Association went to the National Industrial Court to seek justice. Our plea was granted and the court ordered Imo State government to pay Imo State pensioners 100% of their pensions. As of today, the Imo State government has refused to implement the Court order” the Chairman stated
In the same plight, the Ogun Local Government Pensioners’ Association also on 10th May, through the Chairman of Ijebu-Ode branch, Babatunde Ali, called on the state government to pay its members their outstanding pension arrears.
Mr. Ali appealed to the state government to have mercy on pensioners, saying that some of them were dying due to lack of money to take care of themselves.
Although, Gov. Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti had said that his administration would soon put in place creative measures aimed at clearing the backlog of pensioners’ gratuities and thus the era when pensioners will cry or pray before getting what is statutorily due to them on monthly basis is over, the pensioners are also not left out in the foul cry.
The same group in Ebonyi had embarked on a one-day prayer retreat to seek God’s intervention on their plight in the state as disclosed by the Chairman of the National Union of Pensioners (NUP) in Ebonyi, Mr Donatus Okemini. According to the Chairman, they “have tried every other means including meeting with the relevant authorities, peaceful demonstrations to the Government House, and writing of letters to draw government’s attention to our plight but to no avail” hence “We have decided to petition the Almighty God who controls the minds of the leaders for intervention in our situation.
Of course, the named States are not the only victims, but are exemplary victims. The problem here is that even while at work, the now pensioners where not even paid well to have allowed them make any savings. And now that some of them still depend on the money to put food on their tables, the government is still playing with their entitlements.
As May 29 draws closer, it is the wish of the pensioners that those they elected into the office hear them out and respond favorably to their cries.