Massive protest, Rivers pensioners hold Wike in the Jugular

Pensioners in Rivers State have stormed the Government Secretariat to protest government’s neglect and non-payment of their pension arrears.

This is coming after the expiration of the seven-day ultimatum the pensioners issued the Governor Nyesom Wike administration to pay their pension arrears or they make the state ungovernable.

The protesters said they had become endangered species as many of their colleagues had died.

About a week ago, the retirees through their spokesman, Lucky Ati, had issued a one-week ultimatum to Wike to pay them their entitlements or they would embark peaceful protest.

The pensioners on Wednesday trooped out and converged at the state Secretariat, singing solidarity songs.

The retirees, who carried various placards, regretted that after serving the state they were abandoned and made to suffer unnecessarily.

The protesters said they could no longer cater for themselves, let alone their family members.

Their spokesman, Ati, said every effort to get their pensions ended in futility.

He said the retirees decided to exercise patience after being assured that they would be paid.

Also, the leader of the 2012-2015 retirees, Monday Udoh, said that government owed them arrears that would lift them up if paid.

He urged government to intervene urgently by paying them their gratuities and pension.

According to Udoh, many pensioners had died across the 23 local government areas in the state.

The Director General, Rivers State Pension, Ijeoma Samuel, told the retirees that government was aware of their plight and would address it.

Reacting to the protest, Simeon Nwakaudu, Special Assistant to Governor Wike on Electronic Media recalled that in fulfillment of the pledge made by Wike after he signed into law the Rivers State Pension Reform Law (No 4 of 2019), the Rivers State Government has commenced the payment of pensioners under the Contributory Pension Scheme.

He said that the Head of Service of Rivers State, Mr Rufus Godwins, had explained that more than 800 pensioners under the scheme who have completed their biometrics had been paid.

According to him, the Rivers State Head of Service said that further biometric capture of other pensioners under the scheme had been scheduled by the State Government in line with the directive of Wike.

“We have placed over 800 of them on the payroll and we have started paying them. The window for biometric capture is open and we shall continue the process for the purpose of payment.

“Now that the process has started, none of those who fall into this category and the labour unions have gone out to talk about it on the radio, the way they did when the administration was working to address the challenge it inherited” he said.

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