By Chukwudi Ikpe
The Imo State government has commenced payment of pension arrears to pensioners in the state, as promised by the state governor, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, while addressing the State Pension Stakeholders Forum in Owerri last weekend.
The payments, which started as scheduled on Thursday, came after the State Pension Committee submitted its report to the state Executive Council at their meeting on Wednesday, as directed by the governor.
In a radio broadcast on Thursday morning, just before the commencement of the payments, Governor Ihedioha regretted all sufferings Imo pensioners have passed through as a result of the non-payment of their pensions and promised the senior citizens that his administration will not let them down.
He stated that he inherited six years pension arrears from the immediate past regime in the state and attributed it to recklessness and mismanagement by that administration, which he said, took the state for a ride for right years.
He equally stated that the present administration inherited nothing but an empty treasury and decayed infrastructure from the immediate past government.
Chief Ihedioha reiterated his determination to provide good governance to the state, stressing that his administration has embarked on the construction of new roads to alleviate the sufferings of the people.
He also pointed out that the state government has been doing its best to restore Imo as the cleanest state in the country, through the monthly clean up exercise, which is yielding positive results.
Addressing pensioners last weekend, the governor solicited from the cooperation of all and sundry and worried that his administration will not tolerate any form of lawlessness and mismanagement.
Speaking to newsmen after the forum, the state chairman, Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP) Imo State, Sir Dr. JP Ugochukwu, expressed satisfaction on the new development and thanked the governor for his concern.
He explained that the aim of the forum was to make the government appreciate the suffering of the pensioners, adding that a committee will be set up to look into the issue of gratuity and increment.
The state NUP boss noted that the Federal government awards levels of increscent on pensions from time to time to help the pensioners meet up with economic the realities and called on the state government to apply such.
He explained that the present harmonization exercise was a better process than the previous one and promised that the pensioners will cooperate and work along with the new government in the state.
Meanwhile, Christian Voice checks on Thursday revealed that pensioners were already smiling home as some of them confirmed reception of their pensions from banks.