By Ifeoma Ofurum
There has been an increase in mortality rate, hunger and sickness among pensioners in Imo State owing to the non-payment of their pensions and gratuities spanning between eight and 20 months.
The chairman of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP), Imo State, Chief Gideon Ezeji painted the grim picture in an interview with Christian Voice last week.
According to him, the Imo State government owes the civil pensioners for eight months as at last August, local government pensioners eight months and retired primary school teachers 20 months.
Calling on Governor Rochas Okorocha to hasten the payment of the senior citizens’ dues, Chief Ezeji argued that the pensioners had served the state government faithfully.
On government’s order that the pensioners should go for verifications, he wondered how a government will audit and verify sick and bed-ridden pensioners without money to buy food and drugs.
He said that his members were totally opposed to the decision between the government and labour leaders to spread the payment of outstanding pensions over a period of 36 months.
The Imo NUP helmsman disclosed that the state has not paid 73 months’ harmonization arrears since 2000 while pensioners in Alvan Ikoku College of Education and the Imo State Polytechnic, Umuagwo have not been paid their gratuities since 1998.