Chinwe Ugele, Umuahia.

It was more of lamentations and complaints in the face of hopelessness as The Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) in Abia state converged to pray to God to touch the heart of the state governor, dr. okezie Ikpeazu to pay their outstanding pensions and gratuities.

The retirees were all dressed in a mourning outfit, singing different touching hymns as they prayed.

The event was the 2018 pensioners’ day celebration held at the Pensioners’ house, in Umuahia, Abia state capital.

The state chairman of the union, Comrade Ndubuisi Udensi, while addressing the delegates, said the appearance of the pensioners is an indication that all is not well with the senior citizens who have suffered deprivation, sickness, frustration, lack of medical attention resulting to death of some of them.

He recalled that the meeting of the September 25, 2017 with the state government was a failure and however stated that two subsequent meetings in 2018 was full of promises by the government that are yet to be seen.

According to Udensi, their arrears have continuously piled up, with so many unfulfilled promises as well as the position of the state House of Assembly to turn their back on the pensioners in the state.

In October this year, Abia state government released the sum of 100,000000 Naira to commence clearing of the gratuity owed retirees, but did not make another release in November to sustain the process.

“When in October 2017, the state government released the sum of one hundred million naira to begin the scratch payment of gratuity to abia Pensioners, it was believed that the release would be a monthly affair. It served as a concrete measure aimed at clearing the huge gratuity arrears owed to retirees in Abia state, let me hope that the government has not jettisoned the policy,” Comrade Udensi said.

He continued, “The once muted establishment of old people’s home by the government in the state is yet to see the light of the day, such a venture which exits in advanced countries, if established and properly managed, could assist our senior citizens.”

The chairman berated the Nigeria Labour Congress in the state for allowing the government to use “divide and rule” to split the labour in the state into serving workers and retired workers. He said while all these are happening, the NLC leadership pretends to be ignorant of the situation by “playing the Ostrich”, adding that they forget that “a worker today, would obviously be a pensioner tomorrow.”

Comrade Udensi further enjoined the state government to begin to pay pensioners from the Federation Accounts Allocation (FAAC), every month, as well as set up a committee that will work out modalities for the percentage to be designated to pensioners while also considering paying commiserate pensions to reflect the current minimum wage as some persons still take home as low as 500 naira as pensions.

In his remarks, the chairman of the occasion, Eze Prof. B.O. D.ike said pensioners ought to be respected and honoured as fathers and mothers that they are, adding that pension is not new in the ethics of work theory and practice world over.

Chinwe Ugele

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