Monday, 18 March 2013

Pensioners Dare Amaechi…Stage Protest to Government House

By Victor James

Pensioners under the aegis of the Nigerian Union of Pensioners (NUP), Rivers State Council, on 13th March, 2013, staged a peaceful protest march to Government House, Port Harcourt to drive home their demand for the payment of twelve years of pension and gratuities.

The Chairman of the union, Comrade Edward Festus Abibo, recalled that last year, 20th of June, pensioners in Rivers State embarked on a peaceful protest to Government to express their displeasure over the lack of care and frustration meted out on them the state government.

He pointed out that eight months after the peaceful protest, the Rivers State government had not deemed it necessary to assuage their plight, despite the fact that the circular on pension increase was issued by the National Salaries Commission, Abuja.
He regretted that eight months after the public protest, Rivers State was yet to meet the legitimate demands of its pensioners in the state. He referred to the circular Ref. SWC/S/04/5/164/289 dated 5th August, 2010, tilted Re-Review of Pension Rate.

Another contending issue raised by the union is the non-payment of retired primary school teachers (Federal share) of monthly pension which became the responsibility of all the state governments, vide Federal circular from the presidency, establishment and pensions office Abuja , No PNA 32760/S.91/31 dated 14th February 2003.

The union also called on state government to pay the Federal share of pension, gratuities and monthly pensions, gratuities and monthly pensions to those pensioners who retired from service on the 1st of July, 2007 to 31st March, 2011, due to non-implementation of new pension Act 2004.
Meanwhile, the Rivers State chapter of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), wants Gov. Chibuike Amaechi to take advantage of the huge internally generated revenue for the month of February, 2013 as recently by the state Board of Internal Revenue to pay the debts owed pensioners and arrears of allowances of civil servants in the state.

The ACN in a statement issued and signed by the publicity secretary of the party, Jerry Needam said, it’s shocking that the state could realize such huge amount in addition to the N120 billion loan still in the coffers of the state government, yet the elders statement and women whose efforts and invaluable contribution in the past kept the state afloat, have continued to lament and take to the streets agitating to be paid their legitimate pensions.

The ACN spokesman regretted that retired and aged parents should be forced to carry placards to demand for their legitimate rights in a state that prides its enormous resources and respect for the rule of law.
“This is most unscrupulous, insensitive and unfortunate,” the ACN scribe remarked. “Rather than spend the huge internally generated revenue of about N10 billion which is far more than the money owed the pensioners and civil servants, on fake contracts, political jobbers and prosecution of court cases. 

The ACN demanded that part of the amount be used to settle the pensioners’ debts once and for all.
Continuing, the ACN scribe said it is shameful to see sick and dying retired public servants who sacrificed their lives for the state on the roads last Wednesday, March 13, 2013 in protest of what they described as man’s inhumanity to man.

“If there is one problem Gov. Amaechi should be seen to have solved with the billions of naira he claimed to have raked in from internal sources this month and the loans he has collected so far, it should be the payment of the pensioners’ debts and arrears for the civil servants allowances,” the ACN said.

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