By Nick Chibunna
Pensioners in Imo State took to the streets, Wednesday, in a record breaking mass protest which their union president said was aimed at debunking government claims that it had paid them 12 years arrears of pensions.
The day, which would not be easily forgotten in the history of protests in the state, saw the pensioners from the 27 local government areas of the state coming together as one to hold the government by the jugular over their accumulated pensions and gratuities, as well as harmonization of pensions which stood between 13-71 months.
According to the chairman, Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) Imo State Council, Chief G.U. Ezeji, the mass protest was called to put the records straight, debunk claims by the Imo State Governor that he had paid 12 years arrears of pension, and to serve as an appeal to well meaning Imo citizens to intervene and save the lives of Imo pensioners who are dying in droves.
As early as 7am, all the affiliate bodies to the NUP – Imo Broadcasting Corporation (IBC) Pensioners, Association of Retired Permanent Secretaries, Alvan Ikoku College of Education Pensioners and others had taken the Okigwe Road/Government House roundabout by storm, blocking every entry including, Okigwe Road, Bank Road, Wethedral road and Government House axis.
The senior citizens sat on the bare ground on the road, some cracking Kernel as a symbol of plenary while others just laid on the ground to show that they were convalescing due to recent unless.
It was a herculean task for journalists and security operatives who pushed through to perform their duties. Not even the blaring of siren by the eagle-eyed security operatives could deter the pensioners who dared the powers-that-be to crush or run over them if they could.
For hours, economic activities were grounded as vehicles could not move in or out, amidst traffic gridlock, and display of placards, some which read, “Okorocha has killed 11,350 Imo pensioners”, pay our 36 months pension”, “Arise O Lord, let your enemies be scattered” and others”.