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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.”


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