The protest by members of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) in Imo state yesterday took another dimension as the senior citizens resorted to tradition by calling on their ancestors to intercede on their behalf on the pain and hardship the state Governor, Rochas Okorocha, has subjected them to by denying them their pension and gratuity arrears since 1998.
The pensioners who gathered opposite the entrance of the Government House in Owerri clutching their walking sticks poured libation, wailing and demanding that their entitlements be paid them while they are still alive.Meanwhile, the pensioners again grounded the state with their sit tight protest at the Okigwe Round-about which halted vehicular movements, singing and chanting anti Okorocha slogans.
Addressing journalists during the protest, the state Chairman of NUP, Chief Gideon Ezeji, disclosed that his members were protesting again following the announcement by Gov Okorocha in his New Year broadcast that pensioners in the state has been paid.
While debunking the payment claim by the governor, Ezeji explained that as at December 2016, the state government was owing them 77 months arrears of pension while their gratuities has remained unpaid since 1998 till date.
He added that the state government has also refused to harmonise their pensions since 2000 to date. The state NUP leader also reiterated that his members will not accept the 40% offered by the state government, insisting on 100%.
Also, Ezeji said that his members will reject the new pension scheme proposed by the state government to commence in January. He maintained that the review and fixing of new pension rates are are done by the appropriate federal government institution and not the state government.
According to Ezeji, “We are asking the state government to restore nomalcy in the pension administration of the state. This is the time to improve the government fragile relationship with NUP.”