• Tony Igele

Again, Edo Pensioners Protest Non-Payment of Arrears

Pensioners during a protest against alleged non-payment of arrears of their entitlements in Benin City…yesterday. PHOTO: ALEMMA ALIU

NEMA workers demand sack of DG Despite claims by the Edo State government that it has paid over N6.2 billion gratuities and pensions since January, retirees yesterday protested the non-payment of the arrears, which they said, had accumulated to 42 months.

They blocked the Kings Square, popularly called Ring Road, thereby creating gridlock on Sakponba, Sapele, Akpakpava and Airport roads, among others.

They were dressed in red clothes and carried banners with various inscriptions.

The pensioners, who were prepared for the worst possible scenario, also carried mats, mattresses, clothes, as well as chairs and benches.

The retirees accused the state government of insensitivity to their plight and for peddling wrong information to members of the public to the effect that it had paid all their entitlements.

However, the Edo State government through the Head of Service (HOS) Gladys Idahor, had warned that it would no longer fold its hands and watch mischief makers instigate pensioners into embarking on needless and stage-managed protests.

She said the protest was designed to paint the state government in bad light and undermine efforts at resolving the pension issue.

Idahor alleged that the protesters were being sponsored, adding that the government was doing everything possible to pay the arrears.

Spokesman of the pensioners, Gabriel Osemwenhkai, told newsmen that they have been demanding the payment even before former Governor Adams Oshiomhole left office.

“All we are asking is let them pay us the arrears so we can start a new life. We are no more in service and we cannot steal,” he said.

Meanwhile, employees of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) yesterday shut down operations at the agency’s headquarters demanding the sack of the Director General, Mustapha Maihaja over their unpaid benefits.

The workers under the Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria (ASCSN) embarked on the protest after months of deliberations and negotiations over non-payment of their benefits and life assurance, lack of training and promotion, among others.

Chairman of the association, Saad Bello, lamented that Maihaja has failed to live up to expectations and the implementation of the recently signed agreement by Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige.

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