By Nick Chibunna
Imo State pensioners, at the weekend, went home from their pay points furious that the state government was only able to give them one month out of the outstanding pensions ranging from 19 to 31 months.
Besides, pensioners not captured in the last verification exercises they had gone through were denied payment.
A Christian Voice team that monitored the payment across the 27 council areas in the state observed despair and anger on the faces of the senior citizens who complained bitterly for also being short-paid in spite of the paltry one month against the huge backlog.
They angrily waved to our reporters, their cheques, some of which contained as low as N2,000.
However, the State Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP), Chief Gideon Ezeji, appealed to the pensioners to remain calm as the union’s executive council was studying the situation and would soon make its stand known.
At one of the Community Government Councils (CGC) offices in the Ikeduru Local Government Area where payments were being made, the pensioners told Christian Voice that they were shocked when they discovered that they were included in the pay-cut agreement between the state and the labour.
On account of this, they were paid 70 percent of their entitlements, an act which a retired school principal described as inhuman.
Chief Dr Gabriel Okoroafor, a retired director in one of the ministries, said that a situation where one was offered one month out of more than 30 in arrears is surprising.
Another of the senior citizen was seen shedding tears after collecting his cheque because he discovered that the amount written in his cheque would not pay his transport fare to and from his place, not to talk of going to Owerri to cash it.
On the fate of those who were not paid because they were not captured in the last verification exercise at the C.G.C. office, Chief Ezeji said that the executive council would appraise the whole situation.
All the state government and C.G.C. officials who were involved in the payment exercise told Christian Voice that they were working, based on official instruction not to pay pensioners who were not captured during the last verification exercise, and also not to pay by proxy.