Retired government workers in Abia state protested on Wednesday against pension arrears by the Abia state government.
Retirees have not received their pensions for 38 months.
They have also not received their tip for 20 years, according to the Nigerian News Agency (NAN).
The pensioners, operating under the aegis of Concerned Abia Pensioners, marched through the main streets of Umuahia. Later they marched to Government House, Umuahia.
Other inscriptions were: “Let the governor cut his security vote and pay pensioners”, “Why is the Abia government so evil” and “Stop paying half the pensions”.
They accused Governor Okezie Ikpeazu’s administration of being insensitive to their health amid the country’s current economic difficulties.
Retirees urged the administration to take serious steps to pay off pension arrears and outstanding bonuses.
The NAN reported that retirees carried banners with different inscriptions, such as “Pensioners of Abia: Monthly payment for 38 months” and “No gratuity payment since 2002.”
Many of the retirees protesting seemed sickly.
They expressed disappointment at the government’s delay in taming the Federal Government’s harmonized pensions in Abia.
The Coordinator of the group, Emeka Okezie, speaking at Government House, called on the government to be sensitive to the condition of pensioners in the state.
“We have been dehumanized and subjected to unimaginable suffering. The number of deaths of our members ranges between 10 and 15 people each month.
“This is due to the unavailability of funds to meet their health and personal needs,” Mr. Okezie said.
The governor, in his response, said that the state government was making efforts to ensure the regular and consistent payment of pensions.
Mr. Ikpeazu, represented by the State Government Secretary, Chris Ezem, said that the pension was still a right of all retirees.
He said the government was focused on improving the welfare of pensioners.
Finance Commissioner Aham Uko said a recent government forensic exercise on retirees’ payroll exposed 4,422 irregular names.
“The discovery showed that the tips attached to the irregular names on the payroll amounted to more than N6 billion,” said Uko.
He said the exercise not only saved the government from wasting its resources, but would allow it to pay genuine retirees.
He called for collaboration between retiree leaders and the government to ensure that irregular names are removed from the payroll before tips and pensions are paid.
He promised that from now on the payment of pensions in the state would be regular.
Some retirees, according to him, have begun to receive their pensions and, by Friday, more would be paid.